ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A passenger stripped naked during a US Airways flight and resisted a flight attendant's efforts to cover him with a blanket before two off-duty law enforcement officers on board subdued and handcuffed him, authorities said Wednesday.
Keith Wright, 50, of the Bronx in New York, was taken into custody after he disrobed while sitting in his seat inthe back of Flight 705 on Tuesday evening, authorities said. The plane was carrying about 148 passengers fromCharlotte to Los Angeles, the airline said.
Wright was unresponsive when a flight attendant asked him to put his clothes back on, said Dan Jiron, aspokesman for the Albuquerque airport. "She asked him on more than one occasion to put on his clothes. Shecovered him with a blanket and he took that off," Jiron said.
Wright punched and kicked the flight attendant, who asked two off-duty law officers for help, according to acriminal complaint.
A Los Angeles police officer and sheriff's deputy helped the flight attendant subdue and handcuff Wright beforethe flight landed, Jiron said.
The flight attendants also were dealing with an unrelated onboard medical emergency at the same time, whichexacerbated the situation, the FBI said. The aircraft was diverted because of the medical emergency, and Wright'sactions were a secondary reason for the unplanned landing, the complaint said.
Roger Finzel, an assistant federal public defender representing Wright, said he has not yet met with his clientand had no information about the case other than what was in the complaint.
Wright told the FBI he is suffering from a bipolar disorder and had not taken his prescribed medication beforeleaving New York that morning, the criminal complaint said. Wright told the FBI he recalled nothing about theflight or his behavior, it said.
Wright had been seen dancing in a crowded boarding area before the flight, but when approached by FlightService Supervisor Claudia Kearney, he told her he had drunk one beer. Kearney told the FBI she did not smellalcohol on him and determined he was well enough to travel, the complaint said.
US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder could not confirm that Kearney worked for the airline.
Passenger Ginny Keegan of Detroit was sitting in the front of the plane, when there was commotion coming fromthe back. The people on the flight were notified of a violent passenger as the plane began to approach Albuquerque,but Keegan said no one was fearful.
"No one was really panicking. The flight attendants seemed to handle it very well," she said. Keegan said the manwas "completely naked" as he was taken in handcuffs off the plane.
As the plane took off again, Keegan said the usual announcement to please fasten your seat belts came over theloudspeakers with a twist. The message included "a reminder to everybody to please keep your clothing on. It got acouple chuckles," Keegan said.
Wright is in federal custody on a federal charge of interfering with flight crew members and attendants. He isexpected to appear in federal court in Albuquerque on Thursday.