Delta airlines pilot threatened to shoot plane’s captain, feds say

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A former Delta Air Lines co-pilot accused of threatening to shoot the plane’s captain during a flight is facing a felony federal charge in connection to the August 2022 alleged crime and has been fired from his position, officials said.

Jonathan J. Dunn was indicted on Oct. 18 and charged with interfering with a flight crew, according to court papers filed last month in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

According to the two-page document signed by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Kennedy, Dunn assaulted and intimidated a crew member of an aircraft, “interfering with the performance of the duties of the crew member and lessening the ability of the crew member to perform those duties.”

In addition, the indictment continues, Dunn used a weapon during the assault.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General’s office reported Dunn was the co-pilot on the flight and threatened to shoot the captain “after a disagreement over diverting the flight to take care of a passenger with a medical issue,” the Associated Press reported.

Dunn no longer employed by Delta

Dunn no longer works for the airline, Delta confirmed to USA TODAY on Friday.

“Out of respect for the ongoing aviation authority investigation of this incident, Delta will refrain from commenting on this matter but will confirm that this First Officer is no longer employed at Delta,” Morgan Durrant, a spokesperson for the airline wrote in an email.

Pilots are permitted to carry a gun on board the plane under the Federal Flight Deck Officer program created after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The Transportation Security Administration reported Wednesday it “immediately” removed Dunn from the program after learning about his alleged crime, “and took away his equipment,” according to the Associated Press.

According to TSA, carrying is voluntary, available to all crew members, and training is mandated before a person can bring the firearm on board. The program, per TSA, was created to “defend the flight deck of aircraft against acts of criminal violence or air piracy.”

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Dunn has not yet entered plea

USA TODAY has reached out to the office of U.S. Attorney Trina A. Higgins in Utah.

Court records show Dunn appeared in court on Thursday and is being represented by attorney John Huber.

The attorney could not immediately be reached Friday morning.

Online records show Dunn has not yet entered a plea in the case and he is slated to be arraigned on Nov. 16.

Under federal law, if convicted of the crime, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at and follow her on X @nataliealund.

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