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American Airlines flight diverted after ‘disturbing and unacceptable’ passenger fight over racial slur

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Police: New York women arrested in Arizona for assault on American Airlines flight

During an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Los Angeles, two New York women reportedly became violent and were arrested when the flight stopped in Phoenix.

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A fight on a flight caused fright in the sky.

An American Airlines flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Los Angeles was diverted to Phoenix Feb. 24 after an in-flight passenger altercation, the carrier confirmed.

Two women got into a fight with another passenger who asked them to stop using a racial slur, Phoenix police told the Arizona Republic, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. One of the women “became upset and allegedly spit at the male passenger who had asked her to stop using that language,” Sgt. Mercedes Fortune, a Phoenix police spokesperson, said. 

Fortune said the man began recording the incident on his cellphone and that’s when Rodriguez allegedly struck his hand to prevent him from recording. 

The flight was met in Phoenix by law enforcement, and Phoenix Police Department arrested Kelly Pichardo, 30, and Leeza Rodriguez, 29, both from the Bronx, New York. Both women were placed on an American Airlines’ internal refuse list pending further investigation.

“Their behavior was disturbing and unacceptable,” Derek Walls, a spokesperson for American Airlines, said in a statement. 

The flight eventually continued to LAX.

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American said it is working directly with impacted customers to ensure their well-being following the incident. “We thank our crew members for their professionalism in managing a difficult situation,” Walls said.

Pichardo faces a charge of disorderly conduct and Rodriguez faces charges of assault and disorderly conduct.

Contributing: Melissa Yeager, Arizona Republic

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