Flight delays are a common part of airline travel, but the reason why one American Airlines flight was delayed Saturday morning borders on criminal.
Flight 5523 from Louisville to Charlotte was delayed more than three hours because the scheduled pilot was arrested on a triple murder charge moments before the flight, according to local station WDRB TV.
Christian Richard Martin was arrested one day after a grand jury in Christian County indicted him for the November 2015 deaths of Calvin and Pamela Phillips of Pembroke, Kentucky, and their neighbor, Edward Dansereau, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a news release.
Calvin Phillips was discovered dead in the cellar of his home from an apparent gunshot wound, while his wife and Dansereau were found dead in a nearby field inside Pamela’s car, which had been burned, according to The Washington Post.
Police did not list a possible motive, but, according to NBC affiliate WSMV, 51-year-old Martin served in the military earlier this decade and was court-martialed in 2015 in a case involving physical and sexual abuse, and mishandling classified information.
Calvin Phillips was one of the potential witnesses in that case, according to the station. Officials have not confirmed that Martin served in the military or was court-martialed, The Washington Post noted.
Martin was taken to the Christian County Detention Center on murder, arson and burglary charges along with tampering with physical evidence and is being held without bond, according to The Associated Press.
In a statement to media, American Airlines said that Martin has been a pilot for subsidiary PSA Airlines since January 2018 and that no “criminal history that would disqualify him from being a commercial pilot.”
Passengers waiting to board the flight said the arrest was like something out of a movie.
“It was very tense,” Frances Wise told WDRB TV. “I think it was very tense. You could tell the employees knew something was going on.”
She and her daughter, Ashley Martin ― no relation to the suspect ― admit when they heard of Martin’s arrest, they assumed he was intoxicated on the job, and were shocked to learn the real reason.
Ashley Martin was also shocked that it took so long for the arrest to happen.
“It’s startling,” she told the station. “It’s scary to think this happened so long ago, and they’re just now getting around to catching the guy.”
Other passengers took to Twitter to gripe to the airline.