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Man Arrested On JetBlue Flight Talks To KSL

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A flight from New York to California was diverted to Salt Lake City Monday night because a passenger, who police say was drunk, interfered with the flight crew. KSL News spoke exclusively with that passenger.

We have two very different versions of what happened aboard that flight. One that a drunk man was wandering the plane and disturbing passengers with stories of how he shot people; the other, a man just wanting to enjoy dinner and a drink and being discriminated against by flight attendants.

Shalom Yarimo wanted to escape the cold of Brooklyn for the sunny skies of Burbank. Monday night, the Israeli native boarded a JetBlue flight and sat down to eat dinner and drink a few beers.

“It wasn’t on an empty stomach. It was a full stomach, and I know how to drink, and I don’t go over,” Yarimo said.

He says he began choking on his food and ran to the bathroom to throw up. When he tried to return to the bathroom to trim his beard, he was stopped by a flight attendant and told the flight was out of fuel and would land.

“I said, ‘Oh my God! How can they run out of gas if they’re going 3,000 miles? And this is all a lie,’ Yarimo said.

“I don’t know how many FBI came. I don’t know how many police came. And they surround the plane like I’m going to do terrorist acts,” he recalled.

However, the FBI says the flight crew and passengers told a very different story. “Some of his activities included running up and down the aisles, opening the overhead bins, shouting at the flight attendants, making a statement he had shot people in Lebanon,” said Timothy Fuhrman, Salt Lake’s FBI special agent in charge.

Yarimo was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail, charged with interfering with a flight crew. He says his comments about shooting people were during a casual conversation with another passenger regarding his military service and were taken out of context by a flight attendant.

Yarimo will make an initial appearance in federal court tomorrow. The FBI believes him to be in the country illegally, but Yarimo says he has a pending application for U.S. citizenship.

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