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OC man charged after allegedly punching attendant on flight from Mexico to LAX

An Orange County man has been arrested and charged by federal authorities after video showed him punching a flight attendant in the back of the head during a flight Wednesday from Mexico to the Los Angeles International Airport, according to prosecutors.

Alexander Tung Cuu Le, 33, of Westminster, has been charged with one count of interference with crew members and attendants, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a press release Thursday.

He was flying from San Jose del Cabo to LAX on Wednesday when he got up from his seat while flight attendants were distributing food and drink on American Airlines Flight 377, prosecutors said. . Le grabbed a flight attendant by the shoulder from behind and asked for coffee, then grabbed the flight attendant by both shoulders, prosecutors said. The flight attendant moved away and put up a defensive posture, and Le then walked to the front of the plane, according to court documents.

He strolled near the first class cabin and sat down in an empty aisle near the wall separating the two sides of the plane. Another flight attendant asked Le to return to his seat, but he refused and allegedly took a fighting stance and closed both hands into a fist. The stewardess took it as a threat, prosecutors said.

Le swung his arm at the flight attendant and missed, and that’s when the flight attendant turned around to point out Le’s actions to the pilot, prosecutors said. With their backs turned, Le lunged at the flight attendant and punched him in the back of the head, authorities said. Several passengers witnessed the attack and one person recorded the incident.

Le ran to the back of the plane after the incident and several passengers cornered him near an exit row. He was later moved to another row for security reasons and his hands and legs were handcuffed. Flight attendants restrained him further with seatbelt extenders because he kept unbuckling his seatbelt, prosecutors say.

The flight was met by law enforcement upon arrival at LAX, American Airlines said in a statement.

“Acts of violence against our crew members are not tolerated by American Airlines. The person involved in this incident will never be permitted to travel with us in the future, and we will work closely with law enforcement in their investigation,” American Airlines said. “We thank our crew for their quick action and professionalism in ensuring the safety of their crewmates and customers on board. Our hearts go out to our injured stewardess, and we are ensuring that she and her fellow crew members have the support they need right now.

Le is due to appear in federal court on Thursday afternoon. If found guilty, he could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.


Los Angeles Times

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