Man Admits to Charging Cockpit of Plane Leaving Dulles, Shouting About Jihad

Dulles Passenger Disturbance
John Ford

A man admitted on Friday that he charged the cockpit of a plane leaving the Washington, D.C. area last year and shouted about jihad, federal officials say.

David Patrick Diaz, 36, of Poughkeepsie, New York pleaded guilty Friday in federal court and faces as many as 20 years in prison. 

Shortly after the takeoff of a United Airlines flight from Dulles International Airport to Denver on March 16, 2015, a pilot told air traffic controllers a passenger became violent and ran toward the cockpit.

According to court documents, a witness heard Diaz shout, "This plane isn't going fast enough. It's going to go down. Let me in! I have to talk to them. We are going down. Oh God! Open the door!"

A flight attendant and three passengers restrained him, at which point he yelled there was something in the belly of the plane, according to court documents. He also yelled "jihad," witnesses said.

Police met the aircraft at the gate and detained Diaz. The flight attendants said they did not feel comfortable flying again that night, so the flight was canceled and the passengers were scheduled on flights leaving the next morning, according to court documents.

No one on the flight was hurt, officials said.

Diaz pleaded guilty to interfering with flight crew members and attendants. He will be sentenced in April.

Diaz had been removed from another flight out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport earlier that morning. The day before the incident, he boarded a plane at Reagan airport, paced nervously and then asked to be removed, NBC Washington reported.

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