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Alaska Airlines passenger accused of attacking another passenger with pens is charged in federal court

By Paradise Afshar, Pete Muntean and Dalia Faheid, CNN

(CNN) — An Alaska Airlines passenger accused of attacking another traveler with pens wrapped in rubber bands in late January has been charged in federal court with assault with a dangerous weapon, according to court documents filed in the US District Court of Nevada on Wednesday.

Julio Alvarez Lopez, who was on board an early morning flight from Seattle to Las Vegas with 105 other passengers, was restrained by the flight crew, court records said. After the plane landed, he was arrested by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Lopez is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in Las Vegas on March 1, court documents said.

About a half hour before landing, prosecutors allege, Lopez got up to use the restroom and “began punching and hitting the victim” when he returned. The other passenger, who was seated across the aisle from Lopez, is a sworn law enforcement officer, court documents say.

Then Lopez moved up the aisle towards the front of the plane, court documents said, screaming “I’ll only talk to the FBI.” The other passenger told Lopez to sit down, and Lopez took an empty seat before he was restrained, according to court records.

Lopez told law enforcement that he thought the other passenger was following him and believed he was a cartel member who intended to kill him, according to court documents. He also said that he felt the mafia had been chasing him for months, court documents said.

One witness described Lopez as “fidgety” and said he was putting on and taking off gloves during the flight, court documents said.

CNN has sought comment from Lopez’s attorney, Aden Kahssai.

“We’re thankful to our crew for their professionalism in the handling of the incident,” Alaska Airlines said in a statement to CNN.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it is investigating the incident.

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