LEOMINSTER, MASS. (WHDH) - A Leominster man accused of trying to open an airplane door and trying to stab a flight attendant on a United Airlines flight bound for Boston over the weekend has had a troubled past including multiple run-ins with law enforcement over the years, according to court records and local officials.
Leominster Police Chief Aaron Kennedy told 7NEWS he had about 10 interactions with Francisco Torres over 10 years mostly over mental health issues. Kennedy said Torres was offered help, which he refused.
A source this week provided a mugshot of Torres taken when he was arrested for assault and battery back in 2017.
Leominster police took a statement from a woman at the time who said Torres “grabbed hold of her wrist while attempting to forcefully take car keys from her.”
Torres appealed to the judge, writing a letter claiming people were out to physically and emotionally hurt him.
“I suspect they have done more than just adding injections or fattener or an inflammatory substance to my face,” Torres’ letter read.
The case was ultimately dropped.
Two years prior, in 2015, Fitchburg police responded to a panic alarm at a local convenience store.
Court paperwork said Torres “passed a note to the clerk stating he had or needed a gun.”
Torres was charged with assault to rob. Officers, though, said that when they brought Torres in for questioning, they thought he “may be suffering from some type of mental illness.
In documents, officers said Torres “began talking about the Patriot Missile Act and asking if he looked like a terrorist.”
Despite previous incidents involving Torres, Kennedy said he never would have expected the kind of behavior shown in cell phone video this weekend from the United flight.
“He had issues but nothing like that,” he said.
Overall, Kennedy said interactions with Torres were odd. Nothing, he said, was especially dangerous.
“There was a time he was either in a gym or he was running on a road and he had a gas mask on,” Kennedy said. “I don’t even know what to say about that — it’s just strange behavior.”
Torres, 33, has been charged with one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon after Sunday’s incident in the air.
Torres was arrested Sunday evening at Logan International Airport and detained pending a subsequent hearing following an initial court appearance on Monday. He is due back in court on March 9.
In Leominster, Kennedy said the police department will get a mental health clinician to respond to calls with officers. Kennedy said some of the most frequent calls his department fields involve a need for mental health help.
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