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A woman charged the cockpit, then bit a flight attendant as she was being duct-taped, feds say

An American Airlines passenger is facing a federal charge after, officials say, she lunged toward the cockpit and assaulted flight attendants. (CJ Gunther/European Pressphoto Agency)

An American Airlines passenger was duct-taped and zip-tied after, officials say, she lunged toward the cockpit during landing and assaulted flight attendants as they tried to restrain her.

The Charlotte-bound American Airlines Flight 1033 had just started landing, and the crew members had all taken their seats when a woman sitting in the last row suddenly ran toward the front of the plane. As the aircraft hovered 200 feet above the ground, flight attendants yelled at the woman to go back to her seat, but she ignored them, according to a criminal complaint filed against Charlene Sarieann Harriott.

The flight crew then jumped up to chase her as she ran down the aisle of the first-class section and toward the cockpit. The complaint says Harriott “became more aggressive and physically violent toward the flight crew” as they tried to restrain her with duct tape and zip ties. The 36-year-old woman, whose sudden outburst remains unexplained, bit one crew member’s arm, hit a second one and kicked another in the leg and abdomen, officials say.

Harriott has been charged with interfering with flight crew members and attendants, a federal offense. The incident happened Wednesday morning on the flight from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The fight attendant who was bit was bleeding, and another one had visible injuries, the complaint says. All three were seen by an airport medic. No other injuries were reported.

Harriott was arrested and is being held in the Mecklenburg County Jail. She is scheduled for a detention hearing in federal court in Charlotte next week.

The criminal complaint does not explain why Harriott suddenly stormed toward the cockpit. A spokesman for American Airlines declined to comment.

Assaulting and intimidating a flight crew member is punishable by a fine and/or up to 20 years in prison. A person could face life imprisonment if the assault involves a deadly weapon.

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