KANSAS CITY, Mo — A retired Kansas City FBI Special Agent said investigators will be working to learn if the man responsible for an emergency landing at KCI Airport Sunday has any ties to dangerous groups.
Jeff Lanza worked for the FBI for 20 years. He expects agents to have that answer in the next week.
Monday, he spoke with FOX4 about 50-year-old Juan Rivas, the passenger in federal custody after Sunday’s American Airlines flight from LAX was diverted to KCI.
“Mainly they’re looking at motivation here,” Lanza said. “What was the motivation for him interfering with the flight crew, which is what’s he’s charged with.”
In a newly obtained affidavit, witnesses hear Rivas say “we’re going to bring down the plane” during a struggle.
It also states that Rivas, who’s 6’3” and weighs 240 pounds, pulled the emergency door with such force, it “moved away from the frame two to three inches.”
“There’s something happening by the cockpit door and even the flight attendants are nearly crying; they’re very disturbed,” said passenger Mouaz Moustafa. “The plane is going down, descending rather quickly. So, at that moment it’s a moment where I was convinced that this might be it. This thing’s going to go down.”
Witnesses heard Rivas say people were trying to hurt him who followed him onto the plane. He said one was sitting near him and had a knife.
Rivas also said he heard people hurting his family over the phone.
“You’re never going to assume anything until you do an investigation,” Lanza said. “It doesn’t bear the earmarks of a terrorist activity in the way it was conducted. It sounds more like something was going on in this person’s brain that just wasn’t normal.”
Whatever the case may be, passengers are thankful to be on the ground, and for those who stepped in to help.
“There’s a lot of good people that did the right thing, and were heroic and were able to make sure it was a happy ending.”
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