(CNN) — One of the two passengers who jumped off a Delta flight with his dog as the plane entered a runway felt he needed to leave or he would lose control, according to statements during an arraignment Tuesday.
The two passengers and the dog were aboard an Atlanta-bound flight at New York’s La Guardia Airport on Monday, when at least one of the passengers opened the cabin door and activated the slide to exit the plane shortly before. take off.
Antonio Murdock, 31, and Brianna Greco, 23, of Florida, are facing third-degree burglary charges, according to Lenis Valens, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
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Murdock was also charged with vandalism and recklessly endangering others, Valens said.
During Murdock’s arraignment in New York City Criminal Court in Queens on Tuesday, authorities said a flight attendant who was on the plane during the incident told them she observed a passenger and a female passenger walking through the plane. .
According to the flight attendant’s statement, she allegedly heard the passenger, identified by authorities as Murdock, essentially say: “I need to get off the plane, I don’t want to sit here, I’m going to open the door.”
Murdock then allegedly pushed the flight attendant and opened a door marked “emergency exit,” causing the attached slide to unfold and inflate. The man then picked up his dog and went off using the slide, according to the statement.
The passenger, identified as Greco during the arraignment, allegedly followed Murdock down the slide. The couple and the dog walked away from the plane onto the taxiway.
Authorities subsequently detained them in a restricted taxiway area, as indicated during the arraignment.
The flight attendant informed authorities that there was no situation on the plane that required Murdock to open the emergency door, according to arraignment procedures.
Jubril Oladiran, Murdock’s attorney, did not comment to CNN when contacted. CNN is attempting to reach Greco for comment, and it is unclear if he has legal representation.
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Casey Johnson, a Manhattan resident who was flying home with his family to Panama City Beach, Florida, told CNN that he changed seats with the couple and their dog at the door.
Johnson said the couple was personable and that she found nothing out of the ordinary during their interaction.
He called the man, identified by authorities as Murdock, “soft-spoken.”
Murdock asked to switch rows with Johnson, he said, so they could have the last aisle of the plane to accommodate their dog.
The plane was nearly full, except for the middle seats that were left open under Delta’s covid-19 policy. Minutes later, however, the pair moved forward several rows again, Johnson said.
“I actually remember thinking, ‘Well, you asked me to switch chairs with you because you wanted to be in the back, and now all of a sudden you decided that you wanted to be in the front,'” she said.
Johnson, who was wearing headphones as the plane rolled onto the runway, later noticed a commotion.
“And the next thing I know, I look up as we move and I see… I see a lot of people standing and I see like four people running towards the front of the plane. And in this they point out that those must have been passengers who ran to try to stop the person, “said Johnson. He noted that he did not see the couple and the dog as they jumped out of the plane, but he did see that the emergency exit at the front of the plane near the cockpit was open.
Johnson said the pilot told passengers over cockpit speakers that the slide had deployed and the door was open, but did not say that the passengers had fled.
Johnson said the plane stayed on the runway for more than an hour before returning to the gate.
After Murdock and Greco exited the plane, the plane returned to the gate and customers got off the plane normally, Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant said.
The airline was able to accommodate the remaining passengers on alternate flights, he said.
“Maintenance technicians have evaluated the aircraft and (it is) scheduled to return to service tonight,” Durrant said. He said Delta was unable to offer further comment.
Murdock is due to return to court on February 9 and Greco is scheduled to appear in court on March 21, the Queens District Attorney’s Office said.
Valens, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the dog accompanying them was taken to a Brooklyn animal shelter.
Greco was given a receipt to retrieve the dog, Valens said.
In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the incident and the arrests and referred additional questions to Delta and local authorities.
CNN’s Ganesh Setty, Laura Ly, Hollie Silverman, and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.
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