U.S. Attorney’s Office
October 14, 2011
District of Colorado
American Airlines Flight Diverted to Denver; Man Arrested for Interference with Flight Crew
DENVER—An American Airlines flight was diverted to Denver International Airport last night after a passenger became unruly, struck a flight attendant, and then yelled various threats, United States Attorney John Walsh and FBI Special Agent in Charge James Yacone announced. The passenger, Varoujan Khodjamirian, was arrested after the plane landed safely in Denver. The flight, American Airlines flight 21, was enroute from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to Los Angeles International Airport. Khodjamirian is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Boyd Bolland at 2:00 this afternoon, where he will be advised of the charges pending against him.
According to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint, approximately one-and-a-half hours into the flight, after consuming several alcoholic drinks, Khodjamirian became loud and disruptive. Following passenger complaints, the flight attendants reseated the two passengers sitting next to Khodjamirian. Shortly thereafter, the defendant began kicking the seats in front of him. Attempts by the flight attendants to calm him down were unsuccessful, so they moved him to the last row of seats. He continued to be loud, struck one of the flight attendants in the face, and began yelling threats, including, “I kill you children, I kill your mother, I will beat you all down and kill you.” Based on the defendant’s statements and actions, flight attendants restrained him with flexible cuffs and two attendants sat on him while the aircraft was diverted to Denver. As a result, flight attendants had to suspend their normal in flight service.
If convicted of interference with flight crew members and attendants, the defendant faces not more than 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Denver Police Department.
Khodjamirian is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt Bohn.
A criminal complaint is a probable cause charging document. Anyone accused of committing a felony violation of federal law has a constitutional right to be indicted by a grand jury.
The charges contained in the criminal complaint are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until found guilty.