PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Alaska Airlines passenger accused of trying to open an emergency exit during a flight from Anchorage to Portland told investigators he has been diagnosed as bipolar and had not been taking his medicine for more than a year..
Alexander Michael Herrera's statement was included in a criminal complaint released Tuesday, just before he made his first court appearance on a charge of attempted destruction of an aircraft. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The younger Herrera told police he remembered boarding the flight, but did not remember anything that happened in the air. Passengers seated near Herrera on Flight 132 would likely say the opposite.
The complaint, based on the recollections of passengers, crew and police, states Herrera had a window seat in the emergency exit row. He started a calm and polite conversation with Robin Struempler, a woman seated next to him.
Herrera claimed he was psychic and asked the woman for her astrological sign.
He then asked: "What if I came to your home and pounded your kids?"
The burly, long-haired Herrera then turned his attention to the emergency exit, asking: "What would you do if I open the exit door?"
As the plane began its descent to Portland International Airport, Herrera allegedly told passenger Jake Struempler: "Let's see how this plays out."
Herrera, according to witnesses, left his seat and tried to open the door using all his weight — 220 pounds, according to jail information.
Struempler punched Herrera to get him to release the door. Other passengers helped wrestle Herrera to the ground and tie him with restraints. "Why are you doing this?" Herrera yelled. "Why are you trying to hurt me?"