Flight 722 lifted off from Chicago Midway Sunday afternoon headed to Sacramento, California. The drink cart had just moved through the aisle when witnesses say a man tried to open a plane door, saying he wanted to jump out. The horror at 30,000 feet was caused by a passenger with a history of bizarre behavior and contact with law enforcement. While he currently lives in California, he recently moved there from Chicago's west suburbs, where his arrests are on the books.
There are 139 witnesses to what happened onboard the Southwest flight, and almost as many cell phone videos of what happened. A man is charged with assaulting and intimidating a flight crew member and flight attendant, and interfering with the performance of the flight duties.
The man, now identified as 23-year-old Joshua Carl Lee Suggs. The jetliner en route to Sacramento, was forced to put down in Omaha, Nebraska. According to the federal complaint, Joshua Carl Lee Suggs pushed past flight attendant attempted to open the exterior door of the aircraft, located in the aft galley. A flight attendant two stepped between Joshua Carl Lee Suggs and the door and called for help, a number of passengers exited their seats and subdued Suggs, who continued to be combative. Witnesses report his pupils were extremely dilated and his speech was incoherent but clear.
"Just tied his hands together and put him in the chair and I think one of the marshals sat with him for the rest of the trip till we got to Omaha," said a witness.
Air marshals escorted him off the plane with people clapping as they drove him away.
"This is one time where I might sound a little sexist, but I'm glad there were some burly men on the plane because they really did what was great," said another witness.
The I-Team has learned that it wasn't the first time Suggs had unusual problems that ended up involving law enforcement. According to his criminal history in Kendall County, in May 2012 he threw a television through the window of a building and was charged with criminal damage to property according to a Yorkville police report. Then in October 2012, he was arrested for failing to appear on a disorderly conduct warrant and was arrested at his home in Oswego.
It isn't clear what happened to those two criminal cases in Kendall County, nor exactly when Suggs moved from the Chicago area to California. Monday afternoon, his stepmother in San Diego declined to comment on the case by phone. Sugg is being held by federal authorities in Omaha, Neb. and is expected in court Tuesday or Wednesday.