Federal complaint filed against man over flight diversion

A federal criminal complaint has been filed against a disruptive passenger who prompted a flight from New York to Florida to divert to a North Carolina airport.

The document says Michael Aaron Ganter "did knowingly interfere with the performance" of flight attendants and crew members by "assaulting and intimidating" them and "threatening those around him with injury and death, requiring others to restrain him." It was submitted Feb. 10 by Craig W. Noyes, a special agent of the FBI.

Frontier Airlines flight 1335 left LaGuardia Airport the evening of Feb. 9 and was headed to Orlando International Airport when it was diverted to Raleigh-Durham International Airport, according to the complaint.

Other passengers said a man, later identified as Ganter, started making concerning comments to people around him about an hour into the flight after he woke up from sleeping. One said Ganter claimed he was being stuck with needles and that his DNA was being collected.

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He said "he was from the Indian tribe ‘Slapahoe’ and that he was going to slap people and beat them to death." The document says some of the verbal threats were directed toward a small child and the child’s mother, who were seated behind him.

A flight attendant moved passengers seated near Ganter away. Several others moved to be near his seat, which appeared to agitate him. Ganter then stood up in what was seen as an aggressive manner.

Several people restrained him with zip ties on his hands and saran wrap around his feet, according to the complaint. One passenger said Ganter threw a punch at him, while another said she was tossed into a window while trying to move away from the situation.

The flight landed in North Carolina around 7:45 p.m., and airport police boarded to escort Ganter off the plane.

He told an officer in a statement that he alerted flight attendants that he felt pokes into his skin. An attendant asked the passenger to move, he said, and five guys attacked him. Ganter was taken to a Raleigh medical center for an evaluation.

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