2 charged with assault in Spirit Airlines bag dispute

What should have been a routine processing for passengers at Detroit Metro Airport on Sunday led to what Spirit Airlines describes as an assault on its workers at the gate, two arrests and two employees injured.

Two people from Detroit, Jameel L. Murphy, 29, and Raymonique M. Williams, 28, were charged Tuesday in connection with the incident, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.

The couple allegedly became irate and argued with a Spirit gate agent about an issue regarding gate fees for their carry-on baggage, the prosecutor’s office said.

Murphy and Williams allegedly struck the gate agent in the face and back while trying to open the boarding gate, then allegedly hit another Spirit agent in the head when the employee tried to intervene.

The two were arrested at the scene, said the prosecutor’s office. The Spirit agent who attempted to intervene was treated at a hospital.

Murphy and Williams are charged with aggravated assault, assault and battery, and disturbing the peace, all misdemeanors. They were arraigned in 34th District Court in Romulus before Judge Brian Oakley.

Murphy and Williams, who are due back in court for a pretrial hearing at noon March 17, were released on $1,000 personal recognizance bonds.

The incident happened when three passengers had been trying to board Flight 646 to Atlanta without authorization, Spirit representatives said in a statement.

“The agents asked the group to verify that their carry-on bags were sized appropriately for the aircraft prior to boarding, at which time the passengers became combative,” according to the release.

“The agents attempted to calmly defuse the situation but were physically assaulted by these passengers as they closed a door to stop them from boarding the aircraft.”

cellphone video posted by WDIV-TV (Channel 4) showed a man shoving an agent to the airport floor and tussling with him as several others rush over as arms flail, bodies tackled and tossed.

The passengers are banned from future Spirit flights, the airline said Monday.

“All of us at Spirit wish the agents a speedy recovery and thank them for their courage and professionalism,” Spirit officials said. “We also thank law enforcement for responding quickly and arresting those involved in the attack. This violent behavior is completely unacceptable and has absolutely no place in airports or any other place of business.”


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