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Passenger on flight accused of assault; plane made emergency landing in Little Rock

by Grant Lancaster | November 30, 2022 at 7:00 a.m.

A woman appeared in federal court Tuesday morning after FBI agents say she tried to open the emergency door on an airliner and bit another passenger, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Little Rock on Saturday, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.

The complaint, written by FBI Special Agent Kaitlin Patton, alleges that Elom Agbegninou, 34, committed assault within maritime and territorial jurisdictions and interfered with flight crew members and attendants on Southwest Airlines Flight 192 on Saturday afternoon. Patton works in the agency's Little Rock field office.

Agbegninou appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe, where her counsel expressed concern over her mental fitness to stand trial, court records show. Volpe had her turned over to U.S. Marshals Service custody until an evaluation is completed.

Little Rock police arrested Agbegninou after the plane touched down at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, an unplanned stop on the plane's route from Houston to Columbus, Ohio.

Officers had gotten a report that she had tried to breach the cockpit during flight and found Agbegninou restrained at the rear of the plane using plastic flex cuffs, according to Patton's complaint.

A flight attendant, referred to as Witness 1 in the complaint, said that Agbegninou walked to the rear of the plane and was staring at the rear exit door.

When the attendant asked Agbegninou to return to her seat if she wasn't going to use the restroom, Agbegninou reportedly shoved the attendant and tried to reach the door.

A second flight attendant said Agbegninou was pulling on the door handle while the aircraft was at 37,000 feet.

A passenger, referred to as Victim 1, recalled hearing someone say "she's trying to open the door." The passenger wrestled Agbegninou to the ground, pinning her down with their knees. Agbegninou then reportedly bit Victim 1 on the right thigh.

Victim 1 told investigators that they grabbed Agbegninou's neck in an attempt to get her to stop biting but did not choke her. She began to hit her own head against the floor, which Victim 1 stopped her from doing.

Agbegninou told Victim 1 that Jesus told her to fly to Ohio and Jesus told her to open the plane door, the complaint says.

It was not clear from the complaint where the plastic cuffs used to restrain Agbegninou until police arrived came from or who put them on.

Victim 1 was taken to an area hospital for treatment of the bite. The complaint states that the victim is a military veteran with PTSD and anxiety, leading the victim to call a veteran's crisis hotline after the fight with Agbegninou.

The flight took off and continued its route to Columbus shortly after the arrest, authorities said.

Agbegninou agreed to waive her Miranda rights after Patton read them to her twice.

She said she was on her way to Maryland to stay with a family friend. Agbegninou bought a ticket that same day without telling her husband and boarded the plane without any luggage.

Print Headline: Passenger on flight accused of assault


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