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JetBlue passenger 'acting erratically' forces landing in Minneapolis, airline says

NBC News logo NBC News 5/18/2021 David K. Li and Ali Gostanian and Tim Stelloh
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An unruly passenger "acting erratically and aggressively" toward crew aboard a JetBlue flight forced it into an unscheduled landing in Minneapolis, officials said Monday.

Mark Anthony Scerbo, a 42-year-old resident of Mechanicville, New York, was booked on suspicion of drug possession, Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport police said.

JetBlue Flight 915 was on its normal run from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to San Francisco International Airport on Sunday when it "was forced to divert to Minneapolis after a customer on board began acting erratically and aggressively toward crew members and other customers," according to an airline statement.

"The flight was met by law enforcement, the customer was removed and the flight continued on to San Francisco," JetBlue added.

In a cell phone video recorded aboard the flight, an attendant could be heard telling passengers that a passenger allegedly touched another passenger, refused to wear a mask and made repeated trips to the bathroom.

He was also seen making stabbing gestures toward other passengers and snorting a white substance, the flight attendant said. The attendant added that a bag with the substance was found at his seat.

"It was decided that all four flight attendants felt uncomfortable with what was going on," he said. "This was the closest place to go, so we as a team made the decision to come here."

The plane erupted in applause after the attendant finished speaking.

The flight was scheduled to take off from JFK at 2 p.m. ET and land at SFO at 5:36 p.m. PT. But due to its unscheduled 4:38 p.m. CT landing at MSP on Sunday, the flight didn't touch down in San Francisco until 7:24 p.m. PT, nearly two hours late, flight records showed.

Scerbo was still in custody late Monday afternoon, jail records showed, and Minneapolis prosecutors have until noon Tuesday to formally charge him.

He could also face federal charges for possible crimes committed on an airplane, traveling over state lines, a Hennepin County Attorney’s Office spokeswoman said.

It wasn't immediately clear if Scerbo had hired an attorney by Monday afternoon. No one could be reached at publicly listed phone numbers for Scerbo.

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