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Press Release

Minnesota man sentenced for airline assault, interference

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A Minnesota man was sentenced today to five years’ probation for assaulting a flight attendant and interfering with a flight crew’s normal duties.

According to court documents, on June 24, 2023, Christian Burch, 38, went into the bathroom while he was aboard a flight from Minneapolis to Anchorage. Flight attendants heard a scream coming from the bathroom and tried knocking on the door multiple times. The defendant slammed the door open and walked up the aisleway, appearing shaky and confused.

After being questioned by another flight attendant, Burch became unresponsive. A registered nurse aboard the flight examined the defendant and suspected he was overdosing. The flight attendants and a male passenger assisted the nurse is administering a dosage of Narcan, but Burch began to violently struggle when the Narcan was inserted into his nose. The flight attendants and multiple passengers were involved in the struggle, and at one point, Burch grabbed one of the flight attendants near her throat. Burch was also bleeding from his nose and mouth during the altercation, causing multiple passengers and flight attendants to come in contact with his blood.

The nurse was able to administer two doses of Narcan during the altercation and Burch was restrained in one of the cabin seats for the remainder of the flight. Due to Burch’s actions, the flight crew had to stop performing their normal duties to remedy the situation and update the pilots.

Burch was arrested once the plane landed in Anchorage and served six days in federal custody before being released. Upon his return to Minnesota, he was arrested and held in state custody for 72 days for violating his state parole by leaving the state without permission. Burch pleaded guilty in December 2023 but was arrested in March 2024 for violating his pretrial release and has remained in custody since, serving 66 days total in federal custody.

“Air travel is a necessity for many Alaskans and tourists, and all who use or work on this mode of transportation should feel safe while aboard an aircraft,” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska. “This case serves as a reminder that we will prosecute anyone who chooses to commit such actions while in our district.”

“Criminal conduct aboard an aircraft, such as interference with a flight crew, jeopardizes the safety of all passengers and is a federal crime,” said Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Day of the FBI Anchorage Field Office. “The FBI is committed to investigating federal crimes occurring on commercial aircraft, and holding accountable those that endanger the safety of passengers and flight crews.”

The FBI Anchorage Field Office, with assistance from the Anchorage Airport Police Department, investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Schroeder prosecuted the case.



Reagan Zimmerman

Public Affairs Officer

Updated May 23, 2024

Press Release Number: 24-39