5 Arrests After Passengers Storm Eastern Ticket Counter
MIAMI (AP) _ Five people were arrested Sunday after nearly 170 people holding tickets on a canceled flight besieged an Eastern Airlines counter at Miami International Airport, police said.
Eastern ticket clerks called for help just after 5 p.m. EDT when an L-1011 flight scheduled to carry 317 passengers to New York’s Kennedy Airport was canceled for mechanical reasons and a replacement Boeing 727 could only handle 149.
″The rest were stranded, and that’s when things got out of hand,″ said Eastern spokesman Robin Matell. ″Apparently there was some fighting among the passengers to get on that plane.″
An unruly crowd gathered at the ticket counter, police said.
″When police arrived there were about 200 people crowding around the Eastern ticket booth, and some were in the restricted area behind the counter,″ said Metro-Dade police spokesman Ray Valdes. ″For a time there, it was an unruly and unmanageable situation for officers to handle.″
Ticket clerks turned the confrontation over to seven Metro-Dade officers, who told passengers and bystanders that they were trespassing and began escorting them out, Valdes said.
Joanna Corinella, 38, and her husband Anthony, 40, of Sand Point, N.Y., began fighting with officers on their way out the door, Valdes said. Their 14- year-old son, whose name was not released, was also taken into custody. All three members of the family were charged with battery on a police officer and resisting arrest with violence, police said.
″Everybody was angry, but most calmed down when they were told to,″ Valdes said. ″But a few kept arguing and demanded to be put on a plane.″
Albert Catasus, 65, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was also arrested on battery and resisting arrest charges, Valdes said.
″Just when things started to calm down and people were being led away, one man got up and started telling people to go through the gate and force their way on a plane,″ Valdes said. ″He was advised to lower his tone of voice, but he continued.″
Police charged Aaron Solomon, 37, of North Miami Beach with a county code violation of preventing others from using the airport, Valdes said.
Those arrested were held Sunday night in the Dade County Jail, except for the teen-ager who was released to the custody of his grandfather, police said.
Eastern’s Matell said a DC-9 was called in after the ruckus to carry 99 of the stranded passengers to New York, still leaving about 70 passengers in Miami. He said overnight lodging and meals for those passengers would be paid by Eastern, and they would leave on regular flights Monday morning.