Man booked into Oklahoma County Jail after flight makes emergency landing at Will Rogers World Airport


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A flight from one coast to the other was diverted to Oklahoma City on Thursday night.

The person behind the diversion was booked into Oklahoma County Jail for allegedly assaulting a flight attendant.

It all started around 7 p.m. when a flight from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles made an emergency landing at Will Rogers World Airport.

“In 15 minutes at Gate 28, there’s an emergency landing. A flight attendant has been assaulted,” scanner traffic reported.

“We were notified of a plane that was being diverted to Will Rogers World Airport to make an emergency landing due to an unruly passenger on board that had assaulted a flight attendant,” said MSgt. Gary Knight, Oklahoma City Police Department.

Oklahoma City Police made their way on board. The suspect, now identified as Ariel Pennington, was already put in custody by U.S Air Marshalls.

Ariel Pennington mugshot
Courtesy of Oklahoma County Detention Center

A passenger on board captured video of Pennington, as officers led him off the plane.

“Why am I getting arrested though? I’m trying to figure out why I’m getting arrested though? What happened?” Pennington is heard saying.

Video courtesy of Sarah Mucha

“He was very intoxicated, and he was very belligerent. Officers tried to speak with him and he was going to have none of it,” Knight said.

Pennington was taken to the police office at Will Rogers.

Police say that’s when the FBI and Homeland Security were contacted.

“We ultimately put him in jail on public drunk and disorderly conduct charges,” Knight said.

Delta said in a statement that it “applauds the quick action and professionalism of the crew and federal air marshals.”

Pennington was booked into the Oklahoma County Jail later that night. But police say more formal, or felony charges could come from the federal level.

“It’s not the first time we’ve had to do this and sadly with the behavior we’ve seen on airplanes recently it’s probably not going to be the last but we are there to step in if needed,” Knight said.

Pennington has already bonded out of jail.

The FBI sent KFOR the following statement on today’s flight diversion:

The FBI is investigating a reported disturbance aboard a Delta Airlines flight that diverted to Oklahoma City on Thursday night (12/9/2021).

Federal air marshals on the plane subdued a passenger who had allegedly assaulted a crew member.

The flight had left Washington, D.C., and was headed to Los Angeles.

After the passenger was taken off the airplane, the flight was allowed to continue. Because this is an ongoing investigation, no further details can be provided at this time.

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