LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – A suspect is facing a federal criminal charge after reportedly attacking a fellow passenger on a Las Vegas-bound flight last month.

According to a complaint filed in federal court, Julio Alvarez Lopez was arrested on Jan. 24 for one count of assault with a dangerous weapon. An FBI special agent with experience in investigating federal criminal violations “occurring in the special maritime jurisdiction of the United States” investigated the case.

That agent said that the assault happened on an Alaska Airlines flight that departed Seattle-Tacoma International Airport bound for Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas at approximately 6:10 a.m. A witness seated next to the suspect described Lopez as “fidgety” during the flight, recounting that the man kept taking his gloves on and off and getting up to access his backpack.

According to the report, the suspect got up from his seat during the initial descent into Las Vegas, about 30 minutes before landing. He sat down, got up a second time, and went to the restroom, where he was reportedly gone for “a while.”

Upon returning, Lopez reportedly began punching and hitting the victim, who was seated across the aisle. During the altercation, the victim’s wife screamed at the suspect to stop. A witness adjacent to the suspect’s seat also stood up and yelled at Lopez to stop.

One witness reported seeing a “pen and tape bundle” dropped during the altercation, and added that there was “blood everywhere.” The suspect started moving up the aisle toward the front of the aircraft and allegedly began screaming that he would only talk to the FBI.

A sworn law enforcement officer ordered the suspect to sit down, which he did. Crew members provided flex cuffs and Lopez was restrained for the remainder of the flight.

The plane landed at approximately 8:37 a.m. and the suspect was taken into custody by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and held at a police substation in Terminal 3.

After being read his Miranda rights, Lopez admitted to planning the attack. The suspect stated “I planned on attacking and killing him,” according to the report. He had armed himself with pens wrapped in rubber bands and said that he crafted the makeshift weapon before the flight.

He added that he was seeking asylum in the United States. He also said that he believed the victim was with “the Cartel” and was following him.

Lopez has an arraignment scheduled in the U.S. District Court, District of Nevada, on March 1.


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