Police release photo, details of ‘out of control’ passenger on Atlanta-bound flight

ATLANTA — “Out of control.” “Strange.” “Frightening.” These were just some of the words police described the situation involving an unruly passenger on an Atlanta-bound Delta flight.

Officers were called to Delta flight #1730 at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma on Friday after receiving a threat level 4 disturbance call, which is the second to highest level. The plane was diverted there instead of flying from Los Angeles to Atlanta.

When they arrived onboard the flight, the crew led them to the passenger, identified as Stephon Jamar Duncan, who was flex-cuffed and seated on the floor in the first row.

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The flight crew told the officers that they noticed Duncan acting strangely and exhibiting paranoid behavior on the airplane. They said he stashed items, such as a tennis ball with writing on it, trash and food, in various places on the airplane.

Officials said Duncan got up during the flight and got on the PA system and “making announcements about the plane was going through turbulence, to put on seat belts, the plane being taken over and the plane going under 10,000 feet.”


After ignoring the flight crews’ order to stop, that’s when authorities said Duncan turned violent.

When crew members tried to physically stop him, Duncan allegedly used his forearm to push away one of the crew members. When an off-duty member of the flight crew jumped in to help, police said Duncan pushed her against the wall and began choking her.

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That’s when crew members turned to the passenger to help restrain Duncan.

Several crew members and other passengers worked together to subdue Duncan.

During the initial investigation, one of the crew members told police that Duncan earlier had given her a note that read: “I am ATL based ----- Alert Delta manager ----- Terrorist onboard. Contact Pilots.”

Duncan was treated for minor injuries and was later booked into the Oklahoma City Jail.

The flight, while delayed was allowed to continue on to Atlanta where it landed early Saturday morning.

Authorities, including the FBI, are investigating the incident.

Delta released a statement about the incident to Channel 2 Action News.

“Thanks to the crew and passengers of Delta Flight 1730 (LAX to ATL) who assisted in detaining an unruly passenger as the flight diverted to Oklahoma City (OKC). The aircraft landed without incident and the passenger was removed by law enforcement. We apologize to our customers for the delay and any additional inconvenience this caused.”