Man tries to attack Alaska Airlines crew

Passengers help stop man after he breaks into the cockpit

Posted: Friday, March 17, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO - Terrified passengers watched a man roam their jetliner muttering threats and shedding clothes before tackling him as he broke through the locked cockpit door and attack the crew.

``What really scared me was when he tried to open up an exit,'' said Chris Honochick, 37, of Salem, Ore., who helped subdue the man.

Police had no motive for Thursday night's attack on Alaska Airlines Flight 259, which was on the same Mexico-to-San Francisco route as an Alaska Airlines flight that crashed in January, killing all 88 people aboard.

Flight 259 was carrying 43 passengers and five crew members. It took several people to subdue the man until the flight landed.

``Fortunately all the guys moved quick and he ain't dead and we're not dead,'' said passenger Robert Benjamin, 56, of West Linn, Ore., who helped restrain the man. ``I was scared to death.''

Peter Bradley Jr., 40, of Blue Springs, Mo., was released to federal custody after being treated at Mills-Peninsula Hospital for cuts and bruises, authorities said. The co-pilot received eight stitches for a cut to his hand.

Bradley was scheduled to be arraigned in federal court today, the FBI said. The charge was not immediately available.

Police in Blue Springs and in neighboring Independence said they had no record of problems with Bradley other than two traffic violations in 1979, when he apparently moved to Blue Springs.

Bradley did not try to hijack the MD-83 jet, but did threaten to kill people on board, police Sgt. Joe Reilly said.

Earlier in the flight, Bradley had been speaking nonsense and took off his socks and his shirt, Reilly said. Bradley repeatedly switched seats, disobeying orders to stay put.

He eventually sat in first class, where, Reilly said, he made this threat: ``I'm going to kill all of you; keep away from me,'' while simulating the shape of a gun with his hand.

Bradley allegedly shoved a flight attendant and broke through a locked cockpit door about 7:10 p.m., as the plane flew near Monterey, 115 miles south of San Francisco.

He ``was going for the throttle and fuel controls,'' said Reilly.

During the scuffle, the co-pilot grappled with the assailant, using a tool similar to a shovel or pick to defend himself. The captain used the intercom to ask first-class passengers for help.

Crew members and five to seven passengers wrestled Bradley - who is more than 6 feet tall and about 250 pounds - to the floor. He was bound with plastic restraints until arrival in San Francisco at 7:50 p.m.

``The crew and the passengers acted heroically and they averted a tremendous disaster,'' Reilly said.

After a delay to gather evidence, the flight continued to Portland, arriving two hours late.

Alaska Airlines Flight 261 from Puerto Vallarta to San Francisco crashed Jan. 31 off the Ventura County coast. On Feb. 7, sparks flew from one of the engines of an Alaska Airlines flight that was leaving San Francisco after arriving from Puerto Vallarta. No one was injured in that incident.



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