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Butte Chief Executive recounts witnessing unruly passenger on flight to Bozeman who caused emergency landing

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jan 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-04 20:11:46-05

BUTTE — Butte Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher and his family were having a smooth return flight to Montana after a relaxing trip to Cozumel—that is, until the last leg of the flight.

“This is great. We actually hit every one of our connecting flights, we’re going to get in town the way we thought we were, I’m going to make council meeting Wednesday night, and then all hell broke loose,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher’s wife Erna took phone video of a passenger on the American Airlines flight attacking a flight attendant as the aircraft was heading from Dallas to Bozeman Wednesday afternoon.

“Sir! Stop! What the hell do you think you’re doing?” the flight attendant is heard yelling in the video.

The attendant and some passengers were able to quickly restrain the man and the flight was diverted to Amarillo.

“I could hear the scrambling and a few cuss words coming out of peoples’ mouths, words I won’t say on TV, but it was a crazy scenario,” Gallagher said.

The FAA identified the passenger suspected in the incident as Keith Fagiana. Gallagher said he didn’t notice anything leading up to the disturbance.

“People kind of suspected he was drunk or on something and he was having, you know, like a mental breakdown or something that happened at that time,” he said.

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Gallagher said the situation was very unnerving while it was taking place.

“You know, it’s the unknown. Was there something that was found? Or somebody making threats with a weapon? It was a little unnerving, but for the most part, you know, it seemed like everything got under control really quick,” he said.

The incident delayed his return to Montana by about seven hours, but Gallagher was just glad no one was seriously hurt in the incident.

“I talked to the flight attendant and he seemed to be fine. I think a little shaken like anyone would be, you know, but I think they must train the flight attendants well, you know, they were ready,” said Gallagher.

The chief executive said this incident won’t discourage him from taking more flights.