OAKLAND — An incident on a Southwest Airlines flight in which a man became combative and stripped naked forced the pilot back to Oakland, authorities said.
Flight 947 bound for St. Louis with a stop in Las Vegas, had to return to Oakland International Airport at 8:15 a.m. Thursday morning after a man exposed himself to a woman seated next to him, police said. The man reportedly then began yelling, hit the woman and a couple of other passengers, and eventually took off all his clothes.
After the plane returned to the terminal in Oakland, several Alameda County sheriff's deputies arrested him, and he was taken to a hospital. At least one other female passenger also was hospitalized.
"When he exposed himself, the woman next to him did what she should do, which was to scream," said Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a sheriff's office spokesman. "Her scream apparently upset him, and he ended up punching her."
Nelson identified the man as Darius Chappille, 21, of Jefferson City, Mo., who also has an address in Oakland. He had an outstanding arrest warrant on drug charges in Jefferson City, Nelson said.
Passenger Jim Scanlon, 52, of San Ramon, saw the disturbance.
"About 20 minutes into the flight, I heard a ruckus about four rows behind me. This big guy, about 6-1 and a good 300 pounds, wearing an Oakland A's baseball cap, probably in his mid-20s, had hit a lady in the mouth," Scanlon said. "He was yelling but not making any sense. Then he hit or slapped another woman who was sitting next to her husband, and he hit him on the top of the head.
"A flight attendant came running up the aisle, but he faked a swing at her, and she ran back to the back of the plane," he said. "Another two crew members came toward him. He was totally out of his gourd."
Surrounding passengers tried to calm the man, and he did sit down for a while, Scanlon said. "Then he stands up again, and he's totally naked," he said. "Then he sat down again and threw up."
At that point, the plane began returning to Oakland, where police used two sets of handcuffs on the man, Scanlon said.
After about a two-hour delay, the flight resumed its original route.