EXETER, N.H. (WHDH) - One of several passengers who helped subdue a Leominster man accused of trying to open an exit door before attacking a flight attendant recently recalled the tense moments aboard the United Airlines flight to Boston on Sunday. 

Jeff Neil of Exeter, New Hampshire spoke to 7NEWS on Thursday, hours after Francisco Severo Torres was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation following a court appearance in connection with his alleged actions on the plane.

Neil said he opted to make a move to subdue Torres when “it was clear that he was not going to calm down.”

Cell phone video of the incident shows Torres shouting threats before rushing toward flight attendants. Prosecutors have said Torres tried to stab a flight attendant with a broken spoon. 

Prosecutors said flight attendants previously became aware of issues after officials said Torres allegedly tampered with a plane door.

Neil said he stepped up to block Torres’ way after Torres stepped into the aisle. 

“He could have ranted on for 20 minutes, it would have been a horrible experience listening to him, but it would never have got to that point,” Neil said. “But he stepped in the aisle and it changed.”

Neil said Torres backed away from him, charging at flight attendants instead.

“When I saw that he was truly attacking them, that’s when myself and others ended up grabbing him and tackling him to the ground,” Neil said. 

Neil said work to restrain Torres were a team effort as others involved together tried to put zip ties around Torres’ arms. Neil said the situation began to calm down once the group got Torres restrained. 

He said he never knew about the spoon prosecutors said Torres had, saying he learned such information after the fact. Neil said he did see something in Torres hand, though, which he said he believed was a lighter. 

In this case, he continued, he said he felt he simply had to act. 

Torres was arrested on Sunday and brought to court on Thursday. 

Court records and local officials speaking earlier this week previously showed Torres had multiple previous run-ins with law enforcement. 

Among interactions, Leominster Police Chief Aaron Kennedy said he had roughly 10 interactions with Torres over 10 years mostly over mental health issues. Kennedy said Torres was offered help, which he refused.

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