Man arrested, accused of punching passenger on Southwest Airlines flight

Aaron Michael Sweeney (Austin Police Department)
Aaron Michael Sweeney (Austin Police Department)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 28-year-old man could face federal charges for allegedly causing a fight aboard a Southwest Airlines flight on Tuesday.

Austin police say they responded to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport around 4:41 p.m. due to an altercation between two passengers. Southwest Flight 3590 was about 30 minutes into its flight from Austin to Chicago Midway when it had to be turned around due to the fight.

Kyle Vogt says he was sitting towards the back of the plane in a window seat when the suspect, identified by police as Aaron Sweeney, sat down next to him. As the plane was getting ready to take off, Vogt said Sweeney mumbled some unintelligible things to him.

As they were taking off, Vogt said Sweeney became physical and tried to put him in a chokehold twice. “I just thought he was joking,” Vogt told KXAN. “But after the second time, I was cautious with him.”

Vogt said the suspect told him, “After we’re done taking off, I’m going to beat the f— out of you.” Once the plane was in the air, Vogt said Sweeney started punching him. “I did scream, ‘What the f— are you doing?’ I just kind of covered my face as he proceeded to punch the back of my head and back.”

That’s when flight crews finally stepped in and got control of Sweeney. As the pilot turned the plane back towards Austin airport, Sweeney was kept towards the back by himself.

Officers came aboard the plane and removed Sweeney from the plane. He was arrested and charged with public intoxication, resisting transport/arrest and assault on a public servant. Austin police say additional charges could be filed. Sweeney could also face a federal charge for interfering with a flight.

Vogt, who lives in Buffalo and was in Austin for a gaming convention, said he didn’t even know the suspect’s name until KXAN contacted him about the incident.

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