Massachusetts man indicted on charges of trying to open jet’s door, attacking crew on United flight


In his last court appearance in July, a federal judge ruled that Torres was not competent to stand trial.

Francisco Severo Torres in a green jacket.
Francisco Severo Torres is charged with trying to open an emergency door on a flight from Los Angeles to Boston and trying to stab a flight attendant in the neck with a broken metal spoon. Massachusetts State Police via AP

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts man was indicted Wednesday for allegedly attacking a flight attendant earlier this year with a broken metal spoon and attempting to open an airliner’s emergency door on a cross-country flight, federal prosecutors said.

Francisco Severo Torres, of Leominster, was indicted on one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon in the March 5 incident on United Airlines Flight 2609 from Los Angeles to Boston.

In his last court appearance in July, a federal judge ruled that Torres was not competent to stand trial. Magistrate Judge Judith Dein, basing her decision on a mental health evaluation of Torres and her own observations in court, determined that further treatment is warranted.

Federal public defender Joshua Hanye, who represented Torres in that court appearance, could not be reached for comment.

According to prosecutor and witness accounts, Torres went on a midair rant and tried to stab a crewmember with a modified metal spoon.

The plane was about 45 minutes from Boston when the crew received an alarm that a side door on the aircraft was disarmed, according to court documents. One flight attendant noticed the door’s locking handle had been moved. Another saw Torres near the door and believed he had moved the handle. Cabin pressure during flight prevents airplane doors from opening.

Torres started loudly rambling that his father was Dracula, that he wanted to be shot so he could be reincarnated and that he would kill everyone on board, another passenger said.

He punched a male flight attendant, who felt the metal spoon in Torres’ hand hit him on his shirt collar and tie three times, according to court documents. No one was injured.

Torres was eventually subdued and restrained by other passengers. He was arrested when the flight landed at Boston Logan International Airport, authorities said.

If convicted, Torres could be sentenced up to life in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

Torres has spent time in mental health facilities, according to court records. The police chief in his hometown said officers have dealt with him several times since 2014, mostly over family issues and mental health episodes.