Airline Passenger Attacks Another with Makeshift Weapon

( – An airline passenger fashioned a crude stabbing weapon and attacked a fellow passenger on a Las Vegas-bound flight, officials say. Julio Alvarez Lopez allegedly created a makeshift knife using pens bound together with rubber bands and launched it into the face of a fellow traveler. The victim, who was not identified, is a serving law enforcement officer, but the agency he works with is unknown. His wife was also injured during the attack as she tried to shield their 7-year-old son.

Nevada court records reveal that the incident happened on January 24 on an Alaskan Airlines flight from Seattle to Las Vegas. After the assault, an FBI agent’s affidavit says officials aboard the aircraft subdued the perpetrator as he shouted that he wanted to speak to the FBI, handcuffed him with flex cuffs, and alerted Nevada police, who arrested him when the plane touched down.

The FBI reports that Lopez claimed his victim was following him and intended to kill him. He also said that Mexican gangsters had pursued him for months, and he is seeking asylum in the United States. Lopez told police that he believed his victim was a member of a cartel and was sent to murder him.

Records furthermore show that Lopez is a Mexican citizen, carrying a valid Mexican passport, but he is unemployed, of no fixed abode, and with no ties to Las Vegas. Federal magistrate Judge Nancy Koppe ordered Lopez be held on remand until trial – he was charged with one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, and a grand jury returned an indictment on February 21. He is due in court again on March 1.

Alaska Airlines issued a statement praising its staff and expressing thanks to “our crew for their professionalism in the handling of the incident.” The Federal Aviation Administration said it will conduct a thorough review of the assault, which left the victim with injuries to one of his eyes.

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