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Singing, Reference to Ferguson Behind Flight Diversion

Delta Flight 81 made an unscheduled stop Thursday to remove an unruly passenger, but a police report said the fracas began with a passengers' singing.

A passenger's loud singing and references to Ferguson, Missouri, was behind Thursday’s diversion of a Los Angeles-bound jet, officials said in their report of the incident.

Delta Flight 81, traveling from Atlanta to Los Angeles, made the unscheduled stop at Albuquerque International Sunport just after 6 p.m. Thursday so that a first-class passenger could be removed from the plane, in what a passenger said was described as a "security issue."

An incident report shows that issue was a 27-year-old Wichita man’s singing aloud to music playing from his headphones, which bothered other passengers. When he was asked by another passenger and later a flight attendant to stop, the passenger "made references to the recent Ferguson Missouri incident" and "also stated he was being harassed because he was black," according to an incident report released by airport police. The upset and crying passenger went to the restroom several times "and it became a concern to the flight crew" and prompted the diversion, aviation police said in their report.

The passenger was not charged but was not allowed back on the flight. He caught a flight to Los Angeles Friday morning, police said. He never made any direct threats, passengers interviewed by police said.

Ferguson is the St. Louis suburb where black teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer, prompting weeks of protests in that town and in other cities across the country. On Saturday, a gunman who police believe made posts on social media referencing Brown’s death killed two New York City police officers in what authorities have described as an ambush. Attempts to contact the passenger were not immediately successful. A call to Delta was not returned.


— Phil Helsel