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Florida man took mushrooms before attacking flight attendants, affidavit says

United passengers sitting next to the man from Miami could tell he ‘wasn’t right’

A United Airlines Boeing 777 departing from Los Angeles. (Angel Di Bilio/Getty Images/iStock)
4 min

A man who allegedly assaulted multiple flight attendants and broke a piece off a bathroom door on a United Airlines flight from Miami last week admitted to consuming psilocybin mushrooms in the airport before the trip, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.

Cherruy Loghan Sevilla, of Miami, was arrested when his Oct. 4 flight touched down at Washington Dulles International Airport. When police and FBI agents entered the plane, Sevilla was still “yelling profanities and unintelligible sounds,” despite having been restrained in handcuffs by flight attendants and passengers, FBI Special Agent Daniel Markley wrote in the affidavit.

Psilocybin can lead to hallucinations and paranoia, according to the National Institutes of Health, but some studies have documented potential mental health benefits. Several jurisdictions, including the state of Oregon and D.C., have decriminalized psychedelic mushrooms, but they remain illegal under federal law, including on planes.

On the United flight to Dulles, Sevilla was seated in seat 29C, and the father and daughter seated next to him could tell he “wasn’t right,” according to the affidavit. About an hour into the flight, he grabbed the arm of the daughter, who was in seat 29B.

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The father and daughter were moved to other seats, but Sevilla’s erratic behavior was just getting started, according to the affidavit. He soon began “running up and down the aisle, clapping loudly near the cockpit, and yelling obscenities,” Markley wrote. Sevilla opened a locked bathroom while another passenger was inside and broke a “small plastic piece” off the door, he added.

He was also “getting in other passengers’ faces — staring and smiling at them,” and refused flight attendants’ requests that he stay seated, instead lying down on the floor, according to the affidavit.

As flight attendants continued to ask him to take his seat, Sevilla jumped up and attacked one of them, “grabbing and twisting” her breast, Markley wrote. Other flight attendants and passengers, including a law enforcement officer who was on board, jumped in to help.

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The law enforcement officer was able to get a handcuff around Sevilla’s right wrist, but he continued to fight, twisting a second flight attendant’s arm, according to the affidavit. Several people fought to subdue Sevilla, eventually getting the other handcuff around his left wrist.

The law enforcement officer and second flight attendant guarded Sevilla, who “continued to scream and yell incoherent things for the remainder of the flight,” Markley wrote. As a result of Sevilla’s actions, the flight attendant who was attacked was left with bruising on her chest and lasting pain, while the second flight attendant could not perform his normal duties for half the flight, he added.

During an interview several hours later, Sevilla admitted he consumed psilocybin, known as “magic” mushrooms, while at the airport in Miami. He told FBI agents that it was not the first time he had taken the drug, and apologized for his actions, acknowledging he was “not totally surprised that he acted this way after consuming it,” Markley wrote.

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Sevilla was released on his own recognizance on Oct. 5, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday in Alexandria, Va., on charges of assault and interfering with a flight crew. His public defender, Shannon Quill, declined to comment, citing office policy.

United said in a statement that the airline appreciated its crew members “handling this difficult situation with professionalism” and that it followed up with the employees to make sure they were okay after the passenger was removed.

After a surge in the early years of the pandemic, unruly passenger incidents on flights have fallen in 2022, especially after the mask mandate for public transportation ended in April. Still, flight attendants continue to face violence from the flying public, most recently when a passenger punched an American Airlines flight attendant in the head on a flight to Los Angeles in September.

The Federal Aviation Administration has received 2,011 complaints of unruly passengers this year through Oct. 4, which have prompted 721 investigations and 487 enforcement actions, according to an agency database.

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