It was JetBlue Flight 677. In the skies over the Midwest, authorities say 32-year-old passenger Marcus Covington went on a drunken rampage. Now he is in a federal detention center in Denver, held on charges of interfering with a flight crew.
Authorities removed the Chicago man, who is now charged with disrupting the flight and forcing the crew to put down at Denver International.
According to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday in federal court, Covington walked through the cabin, intimidating many of the 150 passengers and crew; groped a 27-year-old pregnant woman with both hands as they stood waiting for a bathroom to open; threatened to kill police officers and then spit on them as he was taken into custody.
An off-duty FBI agent who happened to be on the plane subdued Covington and kept him in his seat until landing in Denver.
Once Covington was removed from the plane, and the commotion was over, the JetBlue flight to Los Angeles resumed, and the captain offered an explanation to unnerved passengers:
"We can't tolerate that," the captain said. "Don't know how much it will escalate. There was no interference as far as the flight Itself or the cockpit or anything like that, banging on the door, thing like that...so there was no danger to the aircraft. But again somebody like that might swing an arm or something and cause some problems in the back so we just wanted, for safety purposes-- we came into Denver. That's it. Thanks."
One passenger, a Hollywood movie producer, tweeted a running commentary on the flight and his encounter with the Chicago man who was arrested. He said that Covington was nicknamed "Marco" and claimed to be a former U.S. Marine with drug problems.
Authorities say while on the plane Covington was seen swallowing at least eight pills of some kind, possibly for bipolar disorder.