LOS ANGELES (KABC) — An Orange County man is facing a federal charge after video captured him punching a flight attendant during a flight from Mexico to Los Angeles Wednesday.
Alexander Tung Cuu Le, 33, of Westminster, has been charged with one count of interference with flight crew members and attendants, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday.
The incident happened on American Airlines Flight 377l, which was destined to land at Los Angeles International Airport after taking off from Cabo San Lucas.
NOTE: The video above is from a previous report on Le’s initial arrest.
Video of the mid-air assault showed the passenger punch the flight attendant in the back of the head while they were in the aisle.
A 30-second video posted on social media showed the flight attendant appearing to talk to the passenger before he turned his back. The suspect then walks toward the attendant and punches him before walking away.
The Department of Justice said several passengers apprehended Le near an exit row.
He was then moved to a different row while his hands and legs were tied.
“Le continuously unbuckled his seatbelt, causing flight attendants to restrain him to the seat with seatbelt extenders,” said the DOJ in a statement.
Footage captured the stunned reaction from other passengers on the plane.
A passenger on the plane told Eyewitness News that the flight attendant didn’t appear to be seriously injured and no one else on the flight was hurt.
The witness, named Kevin, added that the suspect was restrained by other passengers and his hands were zip tied. Before the assault, Kevin said the suspect began to whisper and said, “There are 10 killers on the plane.”
“About that time, the female flight attendant heard this and ran him back into coach. He sat there for a few, and then the male flight attendant went back there and confronted the guy,” Kevin said. “The part of the video you see with him getting hit in the back of the head is him turning around, coming back to the front of the plane, and the guy just jumped up and hit him.”
American Airlines said in a statement regarding the attack that acts of violence against crew members will not be tolerated.
“The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with us in the future, and we will work closely with law enforcement in their investigation,” the statement said.
“We thank our crew for their quick action and professionalism to ensure the safety of their fellow team members and customers on board. Our thoughts are with our injured flight attendant, and we are ensuring that they and their fellow crew members have the support they need at this time.”
Le is expected to make his initial court appearance Thursday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles.
His charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, according to the DOJ.
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