Janice Waul and Devante Garrett (FOX 5 NY)
NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - Two of the New Yorkers arrested at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after chaos broke out Monday night when 11 Spirit Airlines flights were canceled say they were attacked by police.
Janice Waul, 24, and her brother, Davante Garrett, 24, of Brentwood, spoke with FOX 5 NY morning program, 'Good Day New York' on Wednesday.
"We waited at the gate for the flight to board," said Waul. "It was around 8:20 when they said they had a delay. They made another announcement that LaGuardia Airport closes at 12 o'clock and everyone needs to rush to the front to try to get on line... to board the plane. They proceed to make another announcement that the flight was canceled and everyone got extremely upset. Then they said please proceed to the ticket center and everyone rushed to the front."
Broward County Police said Waul, Garret and Desmond Waul, 22, of Selden, were seen by deputies threatening the airline's front counter employees.
Deputies said their actions caused the crowd to become increasingly aggressive to the point of near violence and that they wouldn't leave when ordered.
Janice Waul said the sheriffs tried to remove them from the airport. "They attacked us and put aggressive restraints on us. The police kept grabbing me."
The three are charged with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and trespassing. They were held overnight at the Broward jail and are due back in court later this month.
Spirit Airline blamed the Airline Pilots Association for the cancelations that lead to the chaos. The low-cost carrier says it has filed a lawsuit against the pilots association over an "unlawful job action."
The association said hat Spirit pilots aren't engaged in any job action with Spirit and that the airline's operations "have experienced significant problems over the past several days."
Spirit issued a statement about the incident:
"We sincerely apologize to our customers for the disruption and inconveniences they have suffered. We believe this is the result of intimidation tactics by a limited number of our pilots affecting the behavior of the larger group. We are also shocked and saddened by the events that took place yesterday at Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport and at other airports across our network," said Paul Berry, Spirit Airlines' spokesman.
"We are hopeful that we can put this moment behind us and get back to serving our customers," added Berry.
Videos posted online shows the deputies trying to break up fights and detaining some unruly passengers.
WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE
Fort Lauderdale airport was the scene of a mass shooting in January that killed five people and wounded six. It happened in another terminal on the opposite side of the airport.
Airport spokesman Greg Meyer said Tuesday that the airport staff has added security agents and other staff at the terminal to help Spirit. He said passengers are often anxious before flying, so any serious disruption can aggravate matters. Three more flights were canceled Tuesday.
"For many people, airline travel is very challenging. A lot of people don't do it frequently, so they are nervous anyway. When your flight is canceled and you need to be somewhere at a certain time it is an imposition and we understand that. The airport tries to work with our airline partner to work with our passengers," Meyer said.
With the Associated Press