FBI: 21-year-old ate meth before diverting flight to PDX
A 21-year-old airplane passenger was allegedly high on methamphetamine and heading toward a drug rehab center when he disrupted a flight that was grounded at Portland International Airport.
Douglas Braden Smyser faces state charges of menacing and second-degree disorderly conduct from Port of Portland police, while the Federal Bureau of Investigation charged Smyser with interference with a flight crew, a federal offense.
According to federal and local court documents, Smyser was homeless for several days before takeoff after being kicked out of clean-and-sober housing in Seattle.
His intended destination was the Alo House in Malibu, but before the flight he allegedly injested meth.
"He stated that he actually ate the methamphetamine instead of injecting it, and that he was initially feeling 'ok' at take-off," a federal complaint emphasized.
Officials say the Bonney Lake, Washington resident was flying aboard Compass Air flight 6054 on Wednesday, Feb. 13 on a flight from Sea-Tac Airport bound for Los Angeles when crew members "became concerned about Smyser's actions."
Court documents detail that Smyser repeatedly refused to stay in his seat, tried to move to the first-class area of the plane and tossed his backpack into the aisle, activating an electric razor that began buzzing.
"He stated that during the flight he became suspicious and paranoid, and that he was going to the cockpit to get 'help,'" according to court documents. "On the way to the cockpit, he stated in a mid-range voice 'there's a gun.'"
The captain of the flight became concerned that Smyser would "rush the cockpit," leading to the decision to divert the plane to Portland after about 20 or 30 minutes in the air.
The plane landed at PDX at 7:51 p.m. local time. Authorities say passengers forced Smyser back into his seat by using their "body weight to physically block him." He was also tackled at one point.
After being taken into custody by Port of Portland officials, Smyser allegedly signed a handwritten apology note.
He told downtown jailers he "thought there was terrorists" onboard. Smyser has been convicted of six misdemeanors over the years, beginning when he was 18.
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