Three Long Island women are charged with beating up a security guard and a gate agent at the JFK airport after being banned from their flight for being drunk and not wearing masks.
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged Jordan Nixon, 21, Janessa Torres, 21, and Johara Zavala, 44, reportedly beat up several employees after being told they could not board a Delta Airlines flight to Puerto Rico last September.
According to the indictment, the incident began when a gatekeeper noticed the Long Island women were “visibly disoriented and possibly intoxicated” as they approached the pick-up point for a 12:55 p.m. flight. One of the women also refused to wear her mask properly.
Prosecutors have charged Jordan Nixon, 21, Janessa Torres, 21, and Johara Zavala, 44, with allegedly beating up multiple JFK employees after being told they could not board a Delta Airlines flight to Puerto Rico.
The three Long Island women joined forces at the security guard and punched and kicked him as he lay on the floor, causing his upper lip to bleed
In a separate file, prosecutors said the women were initially scheduled to leave for Puerto Rico at 8:10 a.m. but had been rebooked. Surveillance footage showed the women killing time until their scheduled departure by drinking, ordering nine alcoholic drinks, Washington Post reported.
Prosecutors said that as Nixon approached the gate, she was holding a clear cup filled with an orange drink that reeked of alcohol, the Post reported.
The gatekeeper reported the behavior of the women and the captain and a flight crew member decided that the women could not board the aircraft.
When an airline security officer asked the women to leave the jetway, they refused, started screaming and swearing and eventually turned violent, prosecutors said.
Nixon tapped the security guard on the head, then grabbed his radio and started hitting him with it until he fell to the ground. When a Delta agent tried to help the agent, Zavala punched that employee in the face, court documents say.
The three women then joined forces with the security officer, punching and kicking him as he lay on the ground. Torres is accused of kicking his head and face, causing his upper lip to bleed.
When the officer tried to get up to get help, the women grabbed him by his vest and tore it, court papers said.
Flight crew members were eventually able to snatch the guard away from the vicious attack and lead him behind the jetway doors, but the women remained. “yell and hit the flight crew.”
After the attack, the Gate agent and security officer were hospitalized and neither has returned to the job, according to court papers.
The women, who are currently out on bail, pleaded not guilty to assault. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Nixon is from Bellport, NY, and Torres and Zavala are from Central Islip.
According to prosecutors, the violence has gotten out of hand.
The extreme and aggressive behavior associated with our air travel has spiraled out of control,” said Breon Peace, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “This office has no tolerance for violent behavior that threatens the safety of airline passengers and employees and will prosecute defendants allegedly engaged in such conduct to the fullest extent of the law.”
Violent incidents on aircraft have skyrocketed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, largely due to passenger frustration over measures to contain the spread.
According to the New York Post, a survey in November found that 85 percent of flight attendants faced unruly passengers during the pandemic.
It also found that nearly one in five had been attacked.
Under federal law, it is an offense to interfere with a cockpit crew, including assaulting, intimidating or threatening crew members.
Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received more than 5,000 reports of unruly passengers and investigated more than 1,000 incidents in 2021 — five times more than in 2020, the agency said.