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Man charged with trying to open emergency exit door mid-air on flight from Salt Lake City

Delta to block off middle seats on planes into January
Posted at 10:45 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 11:54:16-05

PORTLAND, Ore. — A passenger on a flight from Utah to Oregon was arrested and now faces federal charges after authorities say he attempted to open the emergency exit door mid-flight.

The U.S. Attorney's Office charged 32-year-old Michael Brandon Demarre with threatening to interfere and interfering with a flight crew and attendants.

The alleged incident took place Friday on Delta flight 1580 from Salt Lake City to Portland.

Witnesses told police that Demarre, of Portland, took the plastic covering off the emergency exit handle and pulled on it "with his full body weight."

A flight attendant reportedly told him to stop and to move to the rear of the aircraft. Court records say he complied and was then restrained by members of the flight crew.

Charging documents say Demarre told police after landing in Portland that he did this "so other passengers would video him, thereby giving him the opportunity to share his thoughts on COVID-19 vaccines."

Demarre has a prior 2020 conviction for driving under the influence and is currently on probation for the offense, according to court records. However, officials said there were no reports that he appeared under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the flight.

He was also convicted of misdemeanor criminal mischief in 2021.

He appeared in federal court Tuesday, where a U.S. Magistrate Judge ordered that he remain in custody.

The FBI is investigating the case with assistance from the Portland Police Bureau.