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Huron Co. man taped to airline seat after groping flight attendants, starting fight, officials say

Norwalk unruly passenger.jpg
Posted at 5:16 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 18:48:16-04

MIAMI — A man from Norwalk has been charged after he allegedly touched flight attendants inappropriately and then punched another, which started a fight that only ended when passengers restrained him, according to a police report and video recorded of the incident.

It happened on Frontier Airlines flight 2239 from Philadelphia to Miami on July 31.

According to the police report, the passenger, identified as Maxwell Wilkinson Berry, 22, ordered a drink from a flight attendant, finished it, asked for another and then "brushed his empty cup against her backside."

The report states the flight attendant told Berry not to touch her. Later on, he spilled a drink on his shirt and went to the bathroom. When he exited, the man was shirtless. The flight attendant told Berry to put a shirt on and then helped him get a new shirt out of his carry-on luggage.

After changing his shirt, the report states Berry walked around for a bit, then "began to get friendly with a second flight attendant," and groped her breasts. He was told to sit down and not touch her, but later walked up behind the two flight attendants, put his arms around them and touched their breasts again.

A male flight attendant was then asked to keep an eye on the passenger. That flight attendant told Berry to sit down and stay in his seat. That's when Berry punched the person in the face with a closed fist, the report stated. A fight broke out but stopped after Berry was restrained by other passengers and duct-taped to his seat for the remainder of the flight.

Berry was taken into custody when the plane landed. The FBI responded to the scene, but said they won't be pursuing federal felony charges, according to the report. Berry was charged with three misdemeanor counts of battery.

According to ABC affiliate WPLG, the flight attendants involved in the incident were placed on paid leave while an investigation is conducted.

A flight attendant union has asked Frontier Airlines to "support its crews immediately" and issued a statement, WPLG reported.

“Flight Attendants have faced an onslaught of disruptions on our flights this year. The situation on Frontier this weekend is one of the worst examples,” Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson said in a statement, according to WPLG. “A drunk and irate passenger verbally, physically, and sexually assaulted multiple members of the crew. When he refused to comply after multiple attempts to de-escalate, the crew was forced to restrain the passenger with the tools available to them onboard. We are supporting the crew."

The statement continued, "Management suspended the crew as a knee-jerk reaction to a short video clip that did not show the full incident. Management should be supporting the crew at this time not suspending them. We will be fighting this with every contractual and legal tool available, but we would hope there will be no need for that as management comes to their senses and supports the people on the frontline charged with keeping all passengers safe. As noted in our unruly passenger survey, if this is not immediately corrected, Flight Attendants may feel unsafe to come to work. Management has a legal duty to maintain a safe work environment for employees.”

A passenger who witnessed the altercation told WPLG that Berry, "started to get aggressive and then basically attack the male flight attendant."

Here is another video of the altercation. WARNING—it contains graphic language.

WPLG later received a statement from the airline stating it would support the team members involved.

"During a flight from Philadelphia to Miami on July 31, a passenger made inappropriate physical contact with two flight attendants and subsequently physically assaulted another flight attendant. As a result, the passenger needed to be restrained until the flight landed in Miami and law enforcement arrived. Frontier Airlines maintains the utmost value, respect, concern and support for all of our flight attendants, including those who were assaulted on this flight. We are supporting the needs of these team members and are working with law enforcement to fully support the prosecution of the passenger involved. The inflight crew members’ current paid leave status is in line with an event of this nature pending an investigation," the statement read.

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