O'Hare Airport

Passengers Jump Into Action After Man Rushes Cockpit Door on Chicago-Bound Flight

The plane was forced to land in Jacksonville, where FBI agents arrested the man

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Passengers on board an American Airlines flight bound for Chicago are recounting the terrifying moment when a man rushed the cockpit door, forcing the plane to be diverted to Jacksonville, Florida.

Flight 2796, which took off from Miami, was forced to make a landing after the passenger became unruly, according to witnesses on the plane.

“I think everyone got freaked out when we landed in Jacksonville and the captain announced the FBI would be arriving,” Dara Tarkowski said.

According to passengers, the man was screaming loudly as he ran toward the cockpit.

“He ran toward the cockpit yelling ‘God is real,’ or something close to that,” passenger Gabriel Hernandez recalled. “The way he was charging, he was nervous or on something.”

Another passenger said that the man had his eyes closed and appeared to be praying during the incident.

Flight attendants and an off-duty pilot managed to briefly subdue the man, but he eventually broke free.

“He was quite strong, and several people were trying to keep him from hurting himself or anyone else,” one passenger said.

Dr. Ruth Schobel, who was on the flight, was one of the people who was ultimately able to restrain the man.

“He clearly had mental issues and was possibly under the influence of drugs,” she said.

When the plane landed in Jacksonville, FBI agents took the man into custody.

“At this time, the FBI’s review of the incident is ongoing, and we are working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine if charges will be filed,” the bureau’s statement read, in part.

In the meantime, passengers on the plane are simply happy to have arrived in Chicago.

“It’s not something you see every day,” one passenger said. “I’m glad to be on the ground.”

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