Passenger Tries to Open Plane Door, Subdued by Fellow Passengers

A passenger aboard an American Airlines flight attempted to open an emergency exit door but was restrained by his fellow passengers until FBI agents took him into custody. Alexander Michael Herrera, 23, is charged with interfering with a flight.

Passenger Ryan Oelrich told ABC News he was sleeping when he heard a "loud hissing noise and lots of screaming."

"My first thought was that the plane must be going down, but then I heard someone screaming to stop him, [taking] him down," Oelrich said. "I looked behind me and in the exit row was a very large gentleman who was attempting to open the exit row door."

Thankfully, other passengers near Herrera jumped on top of him and managed to get him away from the door.

"I put him in a choke hold and brought him down to the ground," Henry Pignataro told KGW-TV.

They stayed on top of Herrera until flight attendants could provide restraints. Pignataro said they used three sets of shoelaces and extra seatbelt extensions to fully restrain Herrera.

Herrera apparently remained calm for the duration of the flight and was taken into custody by FBI agents. The flight from Anchorage to Portland successfully landed at its destination, where FBI agents were waiting to take Herrera into custody. They said that he made "unusual" statements before trying to open the door but refused to say what those statements were.

Passengers were extremely relieved to see him exit the plane and credited a small group of passengers and the flight crew for their quick response, which clearly averted disaster.

"The entire plane, to the best of our ability, gave [those that subdued Herrera] a standing ovation for what they did," Oelrich said. "I'm so very thankful there are people out there who are willing to step up and do their part."

Herrera was taken to a local Portland jail and is expected to make his first court appearance today.