Tried To Open Door, Claimed To Have Bomb; Plane Diverts To
Three Secret Service
agents on their way west to join President Bush's entourage in
California got some field experience of their own Friday, when a
man onboard United Airlines Flight 735 attempted to open a cabin
door at altitude, and later claimed to have a bomb.
Passengers on the Airbus A320 heading from Chicago to Sacramento
rushed to aid a flight attendant who leapt up to stop the man...
and they, in turn, were quickly aided by the agents -- who
witnesses say brought Jose Manuel Pelayo-Ortega quickly under
"I heard a bunch of commotion, and I heard somebody yell 'What
are you doing' and 'Get down,' then I saw the guy put into a
chokehold, put on his back and pinned down so he couldn't move,"
said passenger Joe Pena, a senior airman at Travis Air Force Base
in Fairfield, CA to the Sacramento Bee.
As the agents detained Pelayo-Ortega -- securing him to his seat
with duct tape -- two F-16s from Buckley Air Force Base were
dispatched to intercept the plane, which carried 138 passengers and
six crewmembers onboard. The jet was diverted to Denver
International after Pelayo-Ortega reportedly claimed he had a
FBI spokeswoman Monique Kelso told the Associated Press
authorities searched the aircraft on the ground at Denver for
explosives, and also re-screened luggage and the passengers.
Once it was clear there was no bomb onboard the flight, the A320
departed for Sacramento destination at about 7:30 pm -- less
Pelayo-Ortega, of course, who is now being held in a Denver jail
pending federal charges.
Grateful passengers later said they were happy the Secret
Service agents happened to be onboard their plane.
"That saved us," Ian Grossman of Chicago told the Bee. "You
don't know what will happen if a guy like that is loose in the