Man on flight at Jacksonville airport punched fellow passenger several times, arrest report says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An airplane passenger at Jacksonville International Airport who was arrested Friday punched another passenger several times and slapped away the hand of an off-duty police officer, according to an arrest report obtained by News4Jax on Sunday.

News4Jax learned Saturday that the man was identified as 42-year-old Michael Bairos Costa. He is charged with making threats, disorderly intoxication, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest without violence.

A source confirmed that a couple was on board the plane with a lap child. The source said that the couple was told that the child was too old to sit in someone’s lap. According to an arrest report obtained by News4Jax on Sunday, investigators said they learned the wife was escorted back to the front desk to purchase another ticket for the child and Costa began protesting their removal.

The report states that a passenger told Costa to “hurry up and just leave the plane,” and Costa began punching him. The report notes there’s a video showing the suspect coming up to the passenger and punching him several times. Police noted in the report that the passenger was seated and “was not able to return any punches.”

The report said other passengers then stepped in to intervene and pushed Costa toward the front of the plane. At that time, an off-duty officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office identified herself to Costa with an ID card, but Costa slapped her hand away, according to the report.

The report shows both the passenger and off-duty officer said Costa had been cursing and arguing with airline staff.

When police were eventually escorting Costa to a police vehicle on the tarmac, he tried to pull away and then spat in an officer’s face and made threats toward that officer, the report said.

According to the report, Costa told police that he was upset over his family members being removed from the airplane and the passenger who shouted at him, saying he only hit the passenger because the passenger “got in his face.” The report shows he also said he did not realize the off-duty officer was a police officer because she was not in uniform.

The report states Costa was interviewed by FBI agents. The FBI is investigating, as when the doors of a plane close, incidents on board fall under federal jurisdiction.

According to Flight Aware, which provides information about commuter airline flights, the plane was originally scheduled to take off at 12:15 p.m. Friday. It said the plane didn’t leave the tarmac until 5:10 p.m. that day.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, from Jan. 1 through May 24, there were roughly 2,500 reports of unruly passengers. The FAA hasn’t always kept a tally of those reports, but it began last year after a surge in complaints due in part to mask mandates.

On Saturday, another flight at JIA was held on the tarmac as authorities spent three hours searching the passengers and their bags after a report of a possible device on board. It’s unclear where the device might have been reported, but after an hours-long search, nothing was found.

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