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Man pleads guilty to assault after plane forced to make emergency landing in Oklahoma

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[FILE] A Delta Airlines jet sits on the tarmac at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Credit: Michael Calloway/CNN.

TULSA, Okla. – A Washington man who forced a Delta Air Lines flight to make an emergency landing in Oklahoma earlier this year has pleaded guilty to an assault charge.

Officials say the charge stems from a disturbance on Delta Air Lines flight 1156 from Portland, Oregon to Atlanta, Georgia on May 30

According to an affidavit, 29-year-old Bolutife Olorunda was allegedly acting erratic and disruptive. Flight crew members say they felt like the man was acting in a manner that caused concern for the safety and security of the flight.

When Olorunda was approached by a flight attendant, he allegedly ignored them and continued to act erratic and disorderly.

When the flight attendant continued to try to get the man to stop disrupting the passengers, Olorunda allegedly threatened the flight attendant, saying “don’t touch me and if you touch me again you will regret it.”

After Olorunda allegedly ignored direction from a flight attendant to stop disrupting the other passengers, ignored an Air Marshal on board the plane, and allegedly threatened the flight attendant, the captain determined it was necessary to make an emergency landing at Tulsa International Airport.

Olorunda initially pleaded not guilty to charges, but changed his mind and pleaded guilty to assault within maritime and territorial jurisdiction.

“Airline passengers must follow the instructions of flight staff. If they do not, there are consequences. Mr. Olorunda learned that those consequences can include diversion of a commercial flight and federal prosecution. The defendant will be reimbursing the airline for the cost of diverting that flight,” United States Attorney Shores said. “I commend the quick thinking and decision-making by the flight crew and Federal Air Marshals. Their actions should inspire confidence in the safety and security of commercial air travel in America.”

As part of the plea agreement, Olorunda will pay restitution to Delta Air Line in the amount of $9,118 for the cost to the airline for the diverted landing. He could also face a civil penalty and fine from the FAA and TSA.

His sentencing date has yet to be determined.

He is facing a maximum sentence of six months in prison, a $5,000 fine and one year of supervised release.

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