AZ man arrested after airplane mishap has mental illness history, dad says

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A Southern Arizona man isin jail tonight and is at the center of a federal investigation after sometense moments on a plane today.

Witnesses say that23-year-old Alexander Herrera made several bizarre statements before trying toopen the plane's emergency exit.

The flight was headingfrom Anchorage to Portland. Several passengers reported hearing a loud hissingnoise and then commotion.

"I could see his face andhe was very determined. He was trying to get that door open it looked like hewas trying to get out."

"People next to him,they were yelling at him. The woman next to him said, 'Somebody, pleasehelp.'"

Several passengers jumpedfrom their seats and tackled the suspect. Passengers tied him up with shoelacesand seat belts until the plane landed.

Officersarrested Herrera for interfering with a flight crew, a federal offense.

According to airline officials, the plane door never opened and the cabin wasn't depressurized. The plane was carrying 137 passengers.

We went to the home where Herreraused to live. It's a quiet neighborhood in Rio Rico.

Tonight, we're learningthat he just recently moved from this home to Alaska.

According to his dad, the23-year-old was upbeat and excited about his new job. However, he says his sondoes have a history of mental illness.

"About two or three yearsago, he was diagnosed [as] bipolar," his dad said. "He was taking some medication but he did notlike it, so he stopped the medication and was acting abnormal. He did not haveany more manias and life was OK."

According to his father,Herrera had no plans to visit Portland. In fact, he had no idea why he was onthat flight.

We also spoke to neighborsin the area, asking about what they knew about Herrera.

They said they didn't knowmuch. A wave here and there but that's about it.

The neighbors we spoke toon camera wanted to remain anonymous.

"Well they just movedin about two years ago. They just keep to themselves. It's just scary becausewe live so close by and we don't know anything about them."

Herrerais expected to be in court tomorrow morning.

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