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‘It was going to get worse’: Toronto city councillor helps restrain passenger on flight

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Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, May 17, 2017 9:02AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 17, 2017 1:05PM EDT

An Air Canada flight was diverted earlier this week after a disruptive man had to be restrained by crew members and other passengers, including a Toronto city councillor, when authorities say he attacked the crew with coffee pots and tried to open a cabin door mid-flight.

Air Canada confirmed to CTV News on Wednesday that Air Canada Rouge Flight 1805 from Montego Bay, Jamaica to Toronto diverted to Orlando, Fla. on Monday because of an “unruly passenger.”

Toronto Coun. Michael Thompson told CTV News on Wednesday that he was on the same flight travelling home to Toronto after a vacation in Jamaica with his family. He said the man threatened to throw a hot coffee pot at him while he was trying to assist the crew with calming him down.

According to a federal criminal complaint, the man ran to the back of the plane and grabbed a coffee pot from the galley and was swinging it around.

He then allegedly stated that “it would only take one guy to take the plane down and that he wanted to take everyone with him.”

Another woman on the flight, who does not want to be identified, told CTV Toronto that the man was initially sitting in first class but was brought to the back of the plane after he started throwing items around. She said the flight crew offered him an iPad to watch the entertainment channel free of charge.

Investigators said the passenger swung another coffee pot before he ran to the cabin’s rear exit door and attempted to use the lever to open the door.

Thompson said he and other crew members and passengers repeatedly tried to talk to the man and reason with him but were unsuccessful. He said when the man tried to open the door it was clear they wouldn’t be able to pacify him and took him down.

“I think we had all come to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to get any better. It was going to get worse,” he recalled.

Air Canada said in an emailed statement that even though the man threatened to open the door, it’s “impossible to do during a flight.”

Thompson said he assisted crew members and a few other passengers with tying down the man’s arms and legs to a seat with zip ties to restrain him until the plane landed in Orlando.

“We just wanted to get control of the situation because it was obviously a very difficult situation for us that high up in the air,” he said. “We just didn’t know what could have happened.”

The Toronto councillor praised the Air Canada crew for their professionalism and said they did their best to keep calm aboard the plane.

“There were people crying. There were people asking that they land the plane so they could get off and things like that,” Thompson said.

According to Orlando television station WFTV, the FBI were called around 7:30 p.m. local time.

When the plane landed in Orlando, Thompson said authorities came aboard and escorted the man off the aircraft.

In a video obtained by CTV News, passengers can be seen clapping and cheering as the man is led off the plane by authorities.

Brandon Michael Courneyea was arrested by federal agents and faces several charges. It’s not clear whether he has a lawyer.

With files from CTV Toronto, CP24 and The Canadian Press

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‘It was going to get worse’: Toronto city councillor helps restrain passenger on flight

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