Toronto City Councillor Michael Thompson was among several passengers on an Air Canada plane from Jamaica who helped restrain an unruly passenger who allegedly tried to open a cabin door mid-flight.
The Air Canada Rouge flight 1805 from Jamaica to Toronto was forced to land in Orlando on Monday night after a passenger became aggressive and attacked crew members.
Investigators say the man allegedly swung a coffee pot at the crew before saying that it would “only take one guy to take the plane down” and that “he wanted to take everyone with him.”
At that point, investigators say the man reached for a cabin door and began yanking on the handle.
Crew members and other passengers, including Councillor Thompson, were able to restrain the man and secured him, using zip ties.
Thompson said he was returning from a vacation in Jamaica with his mother when a male passenger started to “pose a danger” to the plane.
“I think every effort was made to try to understand this particular gentleman and try to reason with him, with the hope that he would calm down,” Thomson said on Wednesday.
Thompson said he sat next to the man at one point and tried to talk with him.
“It was at that point when he grabbed the hot coffee and threatened to throw it on me.”
Thomson said the situation continued to escalate and their attempts to diffuse the situation verbally had no effect.
“I think we all came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to get any better, it was going to get worse,” he said.
The flight crew and passengers then decided it was necessary to restrain the man. Thompson said he handled the man’s legs.
“There were a number of us who ended up having to assist him, basically subduing him and putting him in restraints,” he said.
Thompson said that while the man was being restrained by several people, he “still had the ability” to lunge toward the emergency cabin door and pull on the lever.
Passengers reported that the group “could hardly restrain him.”
The whole incident lasted approximately an hour and the flight landed in Orlando at around 8:05 p.m. Monday.
Recalling the incident in a brief interview on Tuesday, Councillor Thompson told the Caribbean Camera that while he helped to restrain the passenger, the man was not hurt in the process.”
He also praised Air Canada personnel ” for the proper way in which they handled the problem.”
The passenger, identified as Brandon Michael Courneyea, was arrested by federal agents in Orlando and will face several charges.