The incident took place on a plane headed from Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas to Los Angeles, California. When the altercation broke out, the plane diverted to Phoenix, where law enforcement “removed and arrested two individuals for verbally and physically assaulting other customers and flight crew members.”
Witnesses told Phoenix police that 30-year-old Kelly Pichardo and Leeza Rodriguez, 29, were involved in the altercation. Pichardo and Rodriguez were allegedly using a racial slur when a male passenger asked them to stop using that language. This prompted Pichardo to spit on the passenger.
“Kelly Pichardo became upset and allegedly spit at the male passenger who had asked her to stop using that language,” the police statement reads. “The male passenger then began to record the two women and that is when Leeza Rodriguez struck the man’s hand to keep him from recording the incident.”
Both women were charged with disorderly conduct and Pichardo faces felony assault charges. They have since been placed on American Airlines’ internal refuse list as the investigation continues.
“We continue to investigate this incident and are working directly with impacted customers to ensure their well-being,” the airline said in a statement. “We thank our crew members for their professionalism in managing a difficult situation.”