Who is Alexander Tung Cuu Lee?
A shocking video shows an American Airlines passenger sneaking up behind an unsuspecting flight attendant and sucker punching him aboard a flight from Mexico to Los Angeles.
The incident occurred on Wednesday on Flight 377 from San Jose del Cabo to LAX, and the passenger was removed from the plane after it touched down in the United States.
When the suspect, 33-year-old Alexander Tung Cuu Lee of Westminster, arrived at the airport, he was detained on suspicion of interfering with a flight crew.
Lee, who allegedly threatened the male attendant before the filmed attack, could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of the offense, a federal felony.
He is scheduled to appear in court in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon.
The incident reportedly began when the suspect began mumbling to himself about ‘killers’ aboard the California-bound plane, reportedly whispering, ‘there are 10 killers on the plane.’
At that point, a female flight attendant reportedly returned to address the man, with the male attendant who was attacked joining in to assist, according to passengers.
Shocking footage shows the moment an American Airlines passenger attacked an unsuspecting flight attendant – sneaking up behind him and sucker punching the staffer aboard a flight from Mexico to Los Angeles.
The two seem to exchange words in an apparently tense encounter. Twice, the male attendant asks the disgruntled traveler, ‘Are you threatening me?’
Off-screen, the suspect appears to lurch toward the attendant, causing the staffer to say, ‘All right, that’s it,’ before turning his back to move away from the man.
He then turns around and starts heading for the front of the plane – when Lee suddenly attacks.
Gasps can be heard as the unruly passenger, dressed in an orange Hawaiian shirt, sprints toward the unaware staffer from behind in the heart-pounding clip.
The suspect then, while the attendant’s back is turned, strikes him in the back of the head with a closed fist.
‘Oh, my God!’ a passenger can be heard shouting amid the resulting chaos after the seemingly middle-aged suspect lands the underhanded blow. ‘What are you doing?’
The worker who was attacked can be seen producing a phone to presumably call the authorities, as the man, identified as 33-year-old Wesminster resident Alexander Tung Cuu Lee, backs off before returning to his seat.
During the ensuing commotion, the worker who was attacked can be seen producing a phone, presumably to call the authorities, as the man backs off, seemingly admiring his work and returning to his seat.
Another member of the crew can be seen rushing to get a pair of restraint cuffs.
Coincidentally, also on board, the plane was a producer for CBS San Diego affiliate KFMB-TV, who said passengers ‘helped restrain’ the suspect as staffers tied him to his seat with flex cuffs, a zip-tie-like device used by airlines to detain passengers.
A separate video on social media shows the plane workers performing this act in front of stunned passengers.
After the plane landed, Los Angeles Airport Police led the suspect off the plane, and he has since been detained pending an investigation into the incident, which could result in him being charged with a federal crime.
According to an American Airlines spokesman, the man has been permanently barred from flying with the airline and has been taken into police custody.
According to another witness, the chaos began when the female flight attendant asked the man to sit before her male colleague went over to assist, resulting in a heated confrontation.
A separate video posted on social media shows airline workers tying the passenger to his seat after the outburst, as stunned passengers look on.
‘Acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated by American Airlines,’ said spokesperson Derek Walls of the incident Thursday.
‘The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with us again, and we will cooperate fully with law enforcement in their investigation,’ says the statement.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), a union that represents over 26,000 American Airlines flight attendants, also issued a public statement in response to the alleged assault.
Lee was subsequently was detained on suspicion of interfering with a flight crew. He faces federal charges if deemed responsible for the attack, and is set to appear in court Thursday
In a statement released Thursday, the organization slammed the incident as ‘dangerous’ and ‘life-threatening,’ adding that it fit a pattern of similar attacks on airline staffers, potentially putting flight attendants at risk.
The union added that they will do all that is necessary to see that the offender will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
‘This violent behavior puts the safety of all passengers and crew in jeopardy and must stop,’ said Julie Hendrick, the national president of the flight attendants association.
‘APFA fully supports the affected crew members, and will do all possible to ensure that the passenger faces prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.’
According to the FAA, airlines have reported more than 3,000 incidents involving unruly passengers since January 1, with many involving passengers who refuse to comply with a federal requirement to wear face masks.
While the FAA agency did not track such reports in prior years, a spokesman said it was safe to assume this year’s numbers are the highest ever.
Since announcing a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ against unruly passengers in January, the FAA has publicized potential fines – some topping $30,000 – against dozens of passengers and has investigated more than 400 cases.
That is about three times the full-year average number of cases over the past decade, according to FAA figures.
Leaders of major flight attendant unions applauded the move, which was pushed for after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Before storming the cockpits, the terrorists who hijacked four planes on the day of the attacks assaulted several flight attendants and passengers.
‘Because a flight attendant was the first to die, we wanted to make sure we could protect ourselves from physical altercations, both on and off the plane,’ said Lyn Montgomery, president of the union local that represents Southwest Airlines flight attendants. ‘Right now, it’s desperately needed, and it’s extremely valuable.’
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, who also advocated making the classes mandatory, nonetheless praised TSA for restarting voluntary ones now because of the surge in confrontations on flights.
‘This should send a message to the public that these events are serious’ and that flight attendant are there to ensure ‘the safety and security of everyone in the plane,’ she said.
Meanwhile, the number of unruly passenger incidents has decreased since the removal of face mask requirements for airplanes in April.
Nonetheless, the FAA has launched nearly 680 investigations into such assaults this year, far more than usual.
The FAA is currently looking into this incident. The suspect is still in custody and has been charged with interfering with flight crew members and attendants on a federal level.