Portland Police: Vulgar passenger using gang signs 'for Jesus' forces plane to land at PDX

Portland Police: Vulgar passenger using gang signs 'for Jesus' forces plane to land at PDX
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POSTED: Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 5:32pm

UPDATED: Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 5:33pm

A man accused of cursing at flight attendants and other passengers on a plane bound for Sacramento forced the pilot to make an abrupt landing in Portland.

Police said the Southwest Airlines flight left Seattle Tuesday morning. Flight attendants immediately reported issues with Lamar Sheron Rogers, 26.

According to court documents, Rogers confronted workers on the plane about his reserved seats in first class. Flight attendants informed him Southwest doesn't have a first class, then asked him to stow his bags three times, to which he replied "I do what I want."

A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court states Rogers then repeatedly pushed the call button demanding a drink using vulgar language.

The complaint says Rogers asked for three glasses of wine, and when he was told he could only have one, he told a flight attendant to "get the f*** out of my face," before saying, "Jesus loves you."

Rogers demanded to speak with the pilot, according to court documents, and when he was told that wouldn't be possible, he began shouting "f*** off" to passengers around him.

Flight attendants told police Rogers was making gang signs with his hands elevated above his head.

An off-duty flight attendant on the plane contemplated retrieving zip ties from his bag in case they were forced to restrain the suspect, court documents state, while flight attendants asked another passenger if he would help them if Rogers became violent.

One flight attendant even prepared a pot of boiling water to use in defense against Rogers if he were to approach the flight deck.

At that time the plane was 65 miles southeast of Portland, and the pilot decided to immediately divert the flight to Portland International Airport. There were 44 passengers on the plane, including one baby, along with three flight attendants and two pilots.

At 7:49 a.m., the plane landed at PDX and two Port of Portland police officers took Rogers into custody.

Court documents state Rogers kept referencing Jesus as he was escorted off the plane, saying "Jesus loves you" and "praise Jesus."

Rogers told officers he believed the flight attendants were racist and the "people on the plane were evil," according to a probable cause affidavit.

Rogers stated that he had been associated with gangs previously, but any gang signs he "threw up were for Jesus."

Court documents state Rogers admitted smoking "purple hash" marijuana prior to the flight, but stated he did not feel high.

He was arrested on the charge of interference with flight crew members. Rogers was set to appear in federal court Thursday afternoon. 

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