Unruly Passenger Who Diverted Flight Suffered Panic Attack: Lawyer

Image: Joshua Suggs is escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight.
Joshua Suggs is escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight.KCRA

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A lawyer for a California man accused of trying to open a door in the middle of a Southwest flight, forcing the airplane to make an unscheduled landing in Omaha, said Wednesday his client suffered a panic attack and may have been psychologically troubled by the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.

Joshua Suggs is accused is pushing past a flight attendant and trying to pry open a rear door while the airplane was en route to Sacramento, Calif., on Sunday, according to a complaint, obtained by NBC News, filed by the Nebraska U.S. Attorney's Office in federal court.

Joshua Suggs is escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight.KCRA

In a court appearance Wednesday, Suggs told a magistrate: "I wasn't trying to harm anybody."

Suggs allegedly rushed to the rear of plane, where nearby passengers leaped out of their seats and wrestled him into submission, according to the complaint. Two of the passengers said Suggs' pupils were dilated and he was speaking incoherently.

His attorney, James Martin Davis, argued in court Wednesday that Suggs was neither a danger nor a flight risk, according to NBC affiliate WOWT. Davis wants Suggs to receive a psychological exam, the station reported.

Davis told the station his client suffered a panic attack "either psychologically or pharmaceutically induced." He also said his client thought the aircraft was "going up and down," adding that he believes Suggs may have been disturbed by the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on March 8.

Suggs, who was taken into custody Sunday at Omaha's Eppley Airfield and remained behind bars Wednesday, is expected to appear in court again next week.