An American Airlines flight bound for Philadelphia from Los Angeles was diverted to Phoenix on Thursday after a passenger made 'alarming' statements referencing the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, police said.
The passenger was removed from American Airlines Flight 754 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport and transported to a psychiatric facility for evaluation under an involuntary hold, said Sergeant Vince Lewis of the Phoenix Police Department.
TMZ reported that passengers claim the man said at one point; 'We will all see the truth, and I will be famous today.'
He then got angry and shouted that he had a gun.
'We’re sitting there on the plane and the guy comes up to the front to give a speech and starts talking about the government and his uncle was missing in action,' said passenger Chip Yates, who helped to restrain the man using duct tape.
'The poor guy needs help. He scared the hell out of everyone,' added Bill Shaw in an interview with CBS Philadelphia.
'We had a situation where right after takeoff a passenger stood and walked to the first class section, where he stood at attention there and refused to take his seat,' said Sgt. Lewis.
'He began making statements that, although they were alarming and threatening in nature, gave the flight crew the indication (of possible mental health issues).'
Lewis said some of the passenger's comments referenced the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and his beliefs about the government.
Passenger Nicoletta Heidegger told Fox 10; 'And he said it was his time to give a speech. He started ranting about the military, the government, he was incomprehensible, it sounded like he was giving military commands and he started talking about psychological warfare and bringing the plane down. It seemed like he was having a flashback of sorts, and kind of in this military persona.'
The flight, which departed Los Angeles International Airport at 8:38am Pacific Time, carried 150 passengers, three infants and six crew members, and was refueled and allowed to continue on to Philadelphia, a spokesman for American Airlines said.
A spokeswoman for the Phoenix airport declined comment, referring calls to police.