A man aboard a United Airlines flight diverted to Vancouver early Saturday morning was taken into custody by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after crew members found what was described as a “threatening message,” according to KWGN.
After originally being scheduled to fly non-stop from Anchorage, Alaska, to Denver, Colorado, United Airlines Flight 1104 was diverted to Vancouver International Airport, where it was said to have landed shortly after 4 a.m., as reported by KTVA.
The Richmond, British Columbia, RCMP reports that they are investigating the circumstances surrounding the message and the diversion of the Denver-bound United Airlines flight.
The Boeing 737 departed from Anchorage at about 11:30 p.m Friday evening. Upon its unexpected arrival in Vancouver early Saturday morning, passengers were said to have been escorted from the plane — together with their luggage — searched, and questioned about the message and the incident. All other passengers, except for the one suspect, were reported to have boarded other flights provided by United. There were said to have been six crew members and 131 passengers aboard the diverted United Airlines flight.
“The crew elected to divert the flight to Vancouver due to a security concern,” representatives with United Airlines were quoted. “We are cooperating with the authorities and working to rebook our customers on an alternate flight.”
The Richmond RCMP was said to have intercepted the flight at the airport and detained the man, though the exact nature of the threat, as well as the man’s name, do not appear to have been released. RCMP Corporal Dennis Hwang described the incident as an “isolated one.”
“Specifics about the exact nature of the security concern are under investigation but we can confirm this appears to be an isolated incident in which security protocols were enacted and the criminal code investigations remains active and ongoing,” Hwang was quoted. Without elaborating on specific charges, the RCMP stated that the man would be in police custody for the “foreseeable future.”
Five ambulances were reported to have attended the airport upon the arrival of the diverted United Airlines flight. No injuries were reported with the incident, according to the CBC.
The passengers that continued on to Denver were reported to have arrived at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, about 12 hours later than when the original United Airlines flight 1104 was scheduled to have arrived.
The FBI is said to be working with the RCMP to determine the exact circumstances behind the nature of the threat, the man’s background, and his motives.
The diversion of the United Airlines flight was reported to have had no impact on other flights in and out of the Vancouver International Airport, which is located just south of Vancouver in the City of Richmond.
The city is said to be the fourth-largest in British Columbia and is noted for its high population of visible minorities, which was reported to be near 75 percent in 2011 by Statistics Canada. Fifty-four percent of Richmond’s residents are Chinese, the city’s dominant cultural group.
According to David Ley, a geography professor with the University of B.C., the reason Richmond has such a high immigrant population is due to its close proximity to Vancouver International Airport, according to Canada.com.
“It’s been quite interesting to see that the districts around YVR have quite a high proportion of immigrants,” the professor was quoted. “Right at the south end of Vancouver, for example, in Marpole and in North Richmond, which is the area of Richmond with the highest concentration of immigrants, both are very accessible to the airport.”
Over 20 percent of the Canadian population, or about 6.8 million people, was comprised of immigrants as of the 2011 Canadian census, according to Statistics Canada.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]