A 32-year-man has been held on federal charges for allegedly punching a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant after hearing voices for weeks — forcing the plane to divert back to Honolulu, according to a report.
Steve Sloan Jr. was aboard Flight HA152, which took off from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport en route to Hilo on Sept. 23, when he punched the male crew member in the chest, the Star Advertiser reported, citing an FBI affidavit.
The passenger later slugged the flight attendant in the head and sat back down “as if nothing had happened,” the document said.
Sloan, who lives on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, was arrested when the flight landed back in Honolulu. He was charged with assault and interference with a flight crew and held at a federal lockup in the city.
During a hearing in federal court Thursday, Magistrate Judge Rom Trader ordered Sloan to remain in custody to mitigate any risk of danger he might pose to the public or himself, the news outlet reported.
Assistant US Attorney Darren Ching cited Sloan’s mental health issues and drug use in requesting that he remain locked up.
“This is based on the fact that the government is alleging that this was an unprovoked attack as well as the defendant’s mental health issues, which included at least admissions that he’s been hearing voices for the last two weeks and that there’s reporting that someone who knows him also said that he’s been hearing voices for the last four weeks,” Ching said.
“Given his drug use and the safety issues, which I won’t detail that are contained in the pretrial services report with regard to him as well as the safety of others, the government agrees that at this time he should be detained,” he added.
Sloan’s lawyer, Salina Kanai, argued that the suspect has no criminal history or any history of violence.
“I do understand the court may have some things that give it pause. There’s recent use of drugs, there’s some mental issues potentially and, of course, the nature of the allegation,” Kanai said.
“But I think those three things alone should not be barriers in a case where this is a nonpresumption case,” she said, adding that her client could be monitored by GPS and receive counseling.
But Trader cited the man’s “mental health condition. That coupled with admitted substance abuse issues really gives the court a significant amount of concern as to whether or not he can safely be released into the community.”
“While the circumstances of this offense are alarming, what’s most concerning is the sort of unprovoked nature of the alleged conduct in this case,” he added.
Sloan is due in court again on Oct. 14.