August 31, 2012
The Baton Rouge man who locked himself in the cockpit of an unoccupied plane at Metro Airport on Wednesday will face local and federal counts.
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputies booked Andrew Alessi, 37, 4550 Bluebonnet Road, late Wednesday into Parish Prison on a count of terrorizing.
FBI spokesman Kyle Hanrahan said Wednesday afternoon that Alessi also will face a federal count of interfering with a flight crew.
Hanrahan did not know Thursday afternoon whether Alessi will stay in Parish Prison or be transferred to another facility while awaiting the federal charge.
Alessi’s bail was set for the terrorism count at $150,000. As of Thursday, Alessi had not posted bond.
Alessi locked himself in the cockpit of American Eagle flight 2795 bound for Dallas-Fort Worth at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday after buying a plane ticket and making it past airport security.
Metro Airport Police Chief Anthony Williams said Alessi pushed past a gate agent and ran down the jet bridge of the American Eagle flight. A gate agent at the rear of the plane tried to restrain Alessi, but Alessi got into the cockpit and locked the bulletproof door.
Once inside, Alessi picked up the airplane’s radio and said, “Hello. Hello. Hello. Can you hear me?” an affidavit of probable cause says.
The Baton Rouge Control Tower responded, “Baton Rouge ground.”
Alessi then said, “Clear the runway.” He also turned on an emergency location transmitter that indicated an aircraft was in distress.
About three hours later, Alessi surrendered to a Baton Rouge Police Department negotiator and came out of the cockpit.
Baton Rouge police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said Wednesday that Alessi’s motive for locking himself in the cockpit is unclear, but he had threatened to kill himself earlier that day.
Police received a call from someone around 11 a.m. saying that Alessi wanted to die by having police shoot him, McKneely said. Police alerted officers throughout the city, some of whom were working an accident on Interstate 10, and armed them with shotguns.
About 30 minutes later, McKneely said, police realized the man who wanted police to shoot him was the same person who had locked himself in the plane.