A retired police officer said he instantly knew something was wrong when a fellow passenger walked by him on a flight from Chicago to San Francisco. That man was trying to get in the cockpit.
One of the men being hailed a hero for his actions during Sunday night's flight from Chicago to San Francisco where a passenger attempted to break through the cockpit door talked about his efforts on Tuesday.
Larry Wright, who is a retired police officer, said he did what he thinks anyone should do under the same circumstances. Wright sat down with reporters at SFO two days after the flight landed safely and the man was taken into police custody.
A man named Rageh al-Murisi is accused of walking to the front of the plane and attempting to get in the cockpit.
Wright said he was sitting in seat 20C when he noticed a fellow passenger walking past. "As I turned, there was a person walking past me. He rapidly broke into a trot... then yelled 'Allahu akbar.'" Wright said from his training as a police office he knew there was a problem and he immediately got up and followed the man. He said when he reached him, he was at the cockpit door. Wright said he put him in a control hold with the help of four or five other people.
"I started thinking about the possible scenarios that could be playing out here. There could’ve been a contaminant of sorts. There could’ve been an unexploded ordinance on the gentleman, so I asked if they had any more flexcuffs," Wright said.
Wright said he physically sat on top of al-Murisi for the remainder of the flight. By that time, al-Murisi had both his arms and his legs in plastic handcuffs and a belt and he was barefoot after Wright and another stripped him of his shoes and socks.
Wright said al-Murisi never spoke to him directly but said "Allahu akbar" some more 30 times during the duration of the flight.
Wright was a police officer for 27 years before retiring four years ago because of an injury to his back.
He said he was in Long Beach on 9/11 at a high tech crime investigator convention and has been ready to act in this kind of situation ever since. "I swore to myself then that I would never be a victim," Wright said.
Wright said after al-Musisi was taken into custody he went back through the passengers because he knew he needed to apologize to a few people for shoving them out of the way.
al-Murisi had his first court appearance Tuesday. He is charged with one count of interfering with flight crew members.
His cousins, who live in Vallejo, said outside court said al-Murisis was a normal guy and they don't think he had any intention of hurting anyone.