Cross-Country American Airlines Flight Diverted After Passenger Allegedly Assaulted Flight Attendant

A passenger on the flight said that a flight attendant was allegedly punched twice

American Airlines plane
American Airlines plane. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty

A cross-country American Airlines flight was diverted on Wednesday after a passenger allegedly attacked one of the flight attendants.

American Airlines Flight 976 out of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York traveling to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, was forced to stop in Denver, Colorado, after a passenger allegedly attacked a flight attendant when the plane was over Ohio.

Once the plane landed in Denver, the suspected passenger was removed from the flight by law enforcement, and the attendant was taken to the hospital before the plane continued to Orange County, the Associated Press reported.

A spokesperson for American Airlines said that they will pursue charges against the passenger, who has been banned from traveling on the airline.

"We are outraged by the reports of what took place on board. Acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated by American Airlines. We have engaged local law enforcement and the FBI and we are working with them to ensure they have all the information they need," American Airlines says in a statement to PEOPLE.

"The individual involved in this incident will never be allowed to travel with American Airlines in the future, but we will not be satisfied until he has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law," the statement continues. "This behavior must stop and aggressive enforcement and prosecution of the law is the best deterrent."

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"We thank our crew for their quick action and professionalism to ensure the safety of their fellow team members and customers on board," the statement concludes. "Our thoughts are with our injured flight attendant and ensuring that she and her fellow crew members have the support they need at this time."

While another passenger told CBS Los Angeles that she believed the assault was related to the requirement to wear a mask on airplanes, American Airlines says there was no information to suggest it was related.

An American Airlines spokesperson tells PEOPLE, "We have no information suggesting it was related to mask compliance."

Passenger Mackenzie Rose told CBS Los Angeles that the suspect allegedly punched the flight attendant twice.

"I understand that he actually punched her twice. I did see her walk back down the aisle afterwards. She had blood splattered on the outside of her mask," Rose said.

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