Florida man took mushrooms before attacking United flight attendants, affidavit claims
Psilocybin can cause hallucinations and paranoia, according to the National Institutes of Health, but some studies have documented potential mental health benefits. Several jurisdictions, including the state of Oregon and DC, have decriminalized psychedelic mushrooms, but they remain illegal under federal law, including on airplanes.
On the United flight to Dulles, Sevilla sat in seat 29C, and the father and daughter sitting next to him could tell he “wasn’t right”, according to the affidavit. About an hour into the flight, he grabbed the arm of the girl, who was in seat 29B.
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Both father and daughter were moved to other seats, but Sevilla’s erratic behavior was just beginning, according to the affidavit. He soon began “running down the aisle, clapping loudly near the cockpit and shouting obscenities,” Markley wrote. Sevilla opened a locked bathroom while another passenger was inside and broke a “small piece of plastic” on the door, he added.
According to the affidavit, he was also “climbing into other passengers’ faces – looking at them and smiling at them” and refused requests from flight attendants to remain seated, instead of lying on the floor.
As the flight attendants continued to ask him to sit down, Sevilla jumped up and attacked one, “grabbing and twisting” his chest, Markley wrote. Other flight attendants and passengers, including a law enforcement officer who was on board, stepped in to help.
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The law enforcement officer was able to put a handcuff around Sevilla’s right wrist, but he continued to fight, twisting the arm of a second flight attendant, according to the affidavit. Several people fought to subdue Sevilla, eventually getting the other handcuff around his left wrist.
The law enforcement officer and second flight attendant guarded Sevilla, who “continued to scream and shout incoherent things for the rest of the flight,” Markley wrote. As a result of Sevilla’s actions, the stewardess who was attacked ended up with bruises on her chest and lasting pain, while the second stewardess was unable to perform her duties. normal duties for half the flight, he added.
During an interview several hours later, Sevilla admitted to consuming psilocybin, known as “magic” mushrooms, at the Miami airport. He told FBI agents it wasn’t his first time on the drug and apologized for his actions, acknowledging he was “not totally surprised he acted this way. after consuming it,” Markley wrote.
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Sevilla was released on his own recognizance on Oct. 5, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday in Alexandria, Va., for assault and interference with a flight crew. His public defender, Shannon Quill, declined to comment, citing office policy.
United said in a statement that the airline appreciates its crew members “handling this difficult situation with professionalism” and that it followed up with employees to make sure they were okay after the passenger was removed.
After surging in the early years of the pandemic, incidents of unruly passengers on flights have declined in 2022, particularly after the mask mandate for public transport ended in April. Yet flight attendants continue to face violence from the traveling public, most recently when a passenger punched an American Airlines flight attendant in the head on a flight to Los Angeles in September.
The Federal Aviation Administration received 2,011 complaints from unruly passengers this year through Oct. 4, resulting in 721 investigations and 487 enforcement actions, according to a agency database.
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