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A man accused of stabbing another passenger on a Seattle to Las Vegas flight charged with assault

LAS VEGAS — A man who witnesses say stabbed another passenger on an airline flight and told authorities he intended to kill the victim has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

The man made an improvised weapon by wrapping rubber bands around several pens.

A grand jury handed down a one-count indictment against Julio Alvarez Lopez on Wednesday over the incident, which occurred on a Jan. 24 Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Las Vegas, according to federal court records in Nevada.

The victim was identified as an off-duty law enforcement officer who had been seated with his family across the aisle from Lopez. A woman seated next to Lopez said he returned from a trip to the restroom and began punching the victim. The woman and the victim’s wife screamed at Lopez to stop.

The man began walking toward the front of the plane and sat down after the victim ordered him to do so, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit. He was restrained with flex cuffs for the rest of the flight and arrested by Las Vegas police after the plane landed.

According to an FBI affidavit, Lopez said he had never seen the victim before the morning flight but believed the man was following him and planned on killing him.

Lopez told authorities that the mafia had been chasing him for months, and that he was seeking asylum in the United States.

A federal magistrate said Lopez is a citizen of Mexico with a valid Mexican passport, he is unemployed and homeless and has no ties to Las Vegas. She ordered him held in custody until trial.

The magistrate said Lopez intended to kill his victim by stabbing him through the eye and into his brain. A photograph of the victim showed injuries above his right eye.

Lopez’s public defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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