Irvine man, 20, was arrested Monday for assaulting a flight attendant on a trip from New York to Santa Ana that was to be diverted to Denver.
Brian Hsu has been charged with flight crew interference and battery, according to the Colorado prosecutor.
Hsu is alleged to have attacked the flight attendant Wednesday on an American Airlines flight that took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport and flew into John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana before being diverted to Denver International Airport, prosecutors said with .
Congratulations Brian Hsu of Irvine for getting a federal indictment and becoming persona non grata on all major airlines over a face mask. The retainer for a fed case if he wants a decent criminal attorney should set him back at least 10k. Good job Brian, galaxy brain stuff. https://t.co/pTOqo2lSyr
— julian chwang (@ChwangJulian) November 1, 2021
The alleged attack occurred mid-flight as the plane was flying over Ohio, a passenger said.
Several witnesses initially told reporters that the attack was due to an argument about wearing a mask.
According to witness statements, the man was sitting in the business class cabin. A passenger sitting nearby told NBC Los Angeles that he heard the flight attendant say, “Sir, come back” before being attacked midway through the trip.
“Someone punched a flight attendant in the nose and broke her nose,” Liv Johnson told NBCLA. Johnson said she saw the man glued to her seat before the plane was hijacked to Denver.
At least two passengers who spoke to NBC said they saw the flight attendant walking down the aisle after the attack, blood splattered off of his mask.
Mackenzie Rose, who was also on the flight, said the man was upset by an argument about the masks. She said that she felt the man might be under the influence of alcohol or “some substance”.
Denver media reported that the flight attendant ran into Hsu, a first-class passenger, accidentally and apologized, but Hsu got up from his seat, went to the plane’s kitchen, and hit the flight attendant twice before. to return to your seat.
“American Airlines will not tolerate acts of violence against members of our team,” said a written statement from American Airlines. “The person involved in this incident will never be able to travel with American Airlines in the future, but we will not be satisfied until they are prosecuted. This behavior must stop and aggressive enforcement and continuation of the law is best.”
The airline announced that Hsu would no longer be allowed to fly with American.
The attack comes this year amid a wave of recalcitrant passengers who sometimes turn violent. Data from the Federal Aviation Administration shows the agency has received nearly 5,000 reports of recalcitrant passenger behavior so far this year, the vast majority – 3,580 reports – of mask conflicts.
The FAA said it will investigate 923 more cases this year, nearly three times the number of investigations in 2019 and 2020 combined. FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson announced in January a “zero tolerance policy” whereby passengers can take immediate enforcement actions instead of warnings.
Law enforcement agencies are investigating the attack, and the FBI and FAA are also investigating.