Los Angeles (Spacela) – Federal charges were filed against a 20-year-old Irvine man Attacking a flight attendant on an American Airlines flight From New York to Orange County last week, forcing the plane to divert to Denver.
The US Attorney’s Office reported Monday that Brian Hsu has been charged with cabin crew interference and assault within the jurisdiction of US private aircraft.
During a brief court appearance in Santa Ana on Monday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Orif Spath set Hsu’s bail at $10,000. He was expected to publish this and be released from custody. He is then expected to appear in federal court in Denver on November 15.
HSO was represented by Andrea Jacobs of the Federal Public Defense Office, but the defendant said it intended to hire a private attorney moving forward.
Spieth restricted his travel to Rhode Island for unspecified medical care, Southern California and Denver. Hsu will need permission to travel elsewhere, but Jacobs has indicated he wants to go back to school in New York in the spring.
The attack occurred on the evening of October 27 on American Airlines Flight 976 from John F. Kennedy Airport to John Wayne Airport.
According to FBI testimony in the case, Hsu was returning home after undergoing brain surgery when the flight conflict occurred.
The defendant’s mother, Julia Yu, declined to comment after the hearing. She was on the plane with him at the time and is a witness in the case.
Prosecutors said Hsu is accused of assaulting a flight attendant Wednesday on an American Airlines flight that took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport and was bound for John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana before being diverted to Denver International Airport.
Four witnesses told the FBI that the flight attendant told Hsu to stay away from the plane’s bathroom, causing him to punch her in the face “hard enough to make her hit the toilet door,” the FBI alleged in an affidavit.
Another witness said it appeared the defendant punched her in a way she was “practicing or practicing,” according to the document. Another witness reported that the victim said, “My nose is broken” after the blow.
According to the affidavit, the flight attendant told the investigator that she was in the “mid-kitchen section of the plane when she felt something hit her in the head.” When she turned around to see what hit her, she saw the defendant and asked him if he was okay, the investigator wrote in the document.
The victim told the investigator that Hsu did not apologize and said he needed to use the bathroom. She told Hsu that the place was occupied and that because it had a “buckle up” sign on it, he had to return to his seat, according to the document.
The victim told the FBI that Hsu made a motion to stretch again, but instead hit his elbow on the head. This prompted her to take a “defensive stance with arms in front of her and hands up”.
Hsu backed down, but “then accused her of hitting his arms,” the victim told the investigator. Then another flight attendant rushed to intervene and Hsu backed down again, but when he accused her again he “hit her in the face with his closed right fist,” according to the document.
The victim said she was “shocked and entered the first-class cabin where she met the chief flight attendant and reported the assault,” the FBI said.
Two men on board were announced to help rein in Hsu.
An FBI investigator said in the document that another flight attendant asked Hsu to sit down, which he eventually did.
Hsu was then tied up with duct tape and “plastic ties,” according to the affidavit.
“Several witnesses commented on Hsu’s strange behavior before and after the incident,” the FBI said.
Officials with the Union of Professional Flight Attendants said the passenger got out of his seat and punched the flight attendant at least twice in the face in front of the kitchen because she accidentally bumped into him.
The plane then landed at Denver International Airport shortly after 6:30 p.m. MST on Wednesday evening. The union said the flight attendant was treated at a Denver hospital for fractures in her face.
American Airlines told CBS News they did not believe the attack was related to the mask.
“I understand he punched her twice,” Mackenzie Rose, a passenger on the plane, told CBSLA last week. “I saw her walk back to the aisle afterwards. Blood splattered on her mask from the outside.”
American Airlines issued a statement at the time saying, “American Airlines does not tolerate acts of violence against members of our team.”
The airline announced that Hsu will no longer be allowed to travel on a US plane.