Submitted by: Donald Hank
A young Saudi Arabian man was questioned by police after he created panic on a commercial flight by trying to open the exit door while the plane was still in mid-air.
Passengers aboard American Eagle flight 4305 from New York to Indianapolis rushed to pull Abdulaziz Mubarak Alshammari, 20, away from the door and return him to his seat.
One said he thought he was about to die when Alshammari began acting erratically about half an hour before the plane was due to land.
The pilot, captain James K. Kolostyak, said he heard someone trying to open the cabin door and saw the interior door warning light come on in the cockpit, WISH TV reported.
Alshammari was questioned by Airport police officer Jonathan Brown when the flight landed at Indianapolis International Airport at 10pm on Wednesday.
The police report states he did not appear to know what he was doing and spoke little English. They photocopied a note Alshammari had handwritten in Arabic while on board.
Alshammari, who was not charged, claimed to be a student at the University of Indianapolis, WISH TV reported, but a spokesperson at the school said they have no record of him there.
A language academy near the university, Internexus Indianapolis, sends several Saudi students to the university after they complete courses, the Indy Star reported.
The director of Internexus, Adele Tyson, could not be reached for comment.
Alshammari said he flew from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Doha, Qatar, to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York before heading to Indianapolis, the Indy Star reported.
Police contacted the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center and the FBI Terrorist Screening Center to run checks on the passenger.
Records indicated Alshammari was not on a terrorist watch list or wanted on any criminal warrants.
Spokesmen for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security said they had no involvement in the case. The FBI could not be reached for comment.
'He appeared confused,' American Eagle spokesman Ed Martelle told the Indy Star. 'He was heading to the front of the plane when he was intercepted by a passenger and a flight attendant. They led him back to his seat and that’s where he remained the rest of the flight.'
'It was concerning rather than threatening,' Dr Harry Greenspun told WISh TV. 'Once the guy got in his seat none of us were going to let him out, but we weren't going to overreact and tackle him to the ground.'
Passenger Rodney Bailey was quick to step in when he noticed Alshammari's erratic behavior.
'He tried [to open the door] twice,' Mr Bailey told WISH TV. 'I just threw down my stuff and jumped out of my seat and ran to the door. I pulled him by the arm and tried to get him behind me.
'I've flown more than two million miles with American Airlines; I've never seen anything like this. I felt like my life flashed before my eyes.'
Mr Bailey said that he had travelled all over the world, and did not want to die over a corn field in Indiana.
Mr Bailey then asked Alshammari if he was looking for the bathroom and Alshammari shook his head.
The police report stated: 'T.S.A. would not respond to the scene.'
Jim Fotenos, a TSA Spokesperson told WISH TV: 'TSA was notified of the incident onboard American Eagle flight 4305 fromJohn F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Indianapolis International Airport.
'The flight landed safely and local law enforcement responded. TSA monitored the situation and was satisfied with the actions taken by local and federal law enforcement.'