Accused soccer players return home to El Cajon - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Accused soccer players return home to El Cajon

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EL CAJON (CBS 8) - A half-dozen local soccer players whose allegedly disruptive behavior on a Southwest flight to Chicago forced the plane to make an unexpected stop in Texas returned to San Diego County Friday by car.

The soccer team was scheduled to arrive at St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Church, but while they were driving from Texas their car got a flat tire in Arizona. The team members finally arrived safely at their homes Friday morning. They’ve since spoken to an attorney, who has advised them to not address the media.

The six players all El Cajon residents: Saiman Hermez, 19, Jonathan Petras, 20,  Ghazwan Shaba, 21, Essa Solaqa, 20, Khalid Yohana,19, and Wisam Shaker, 23. They're part of the Chaldean Soccer Team in San Diego and are accused of disrupting a Southwest Airlines flight Monday night.

The Chaldean and Assyrian League team was flying from San Diego to Chicago for a tournament when it was diverted to Amarillo, Texas.

The federal complaint indicates that six players were disruptive, used profanity, called the flight attendant a "racist pig" after allegedly not being served any alcohol.

The complaint also alleged the defendants were repeatedly standing up and becoming increasingly louder and attempted to incite other passengers to join their non-compliant behavior. Their aggressive behavior prompted a flight attendant, who said she was in fear for the safety of the crew and passengers, to ask the pilots to divert the aircraft.
Flight 1522 made an unscheduled landing at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. Texas authorities were waiting to arrest the athletes when the plane landed.

The men were arrested on suspicion of interference of a flight crew, a federal crime, and were booked into Randall County Jail. 

The six players have been ordered to not leave Southern California except for court appearances, avoid alcohol and stay off Southwest Airlines. They are scheduled to be back in court in late September. If convicted they face 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine.

Southwest Airlines issued a statement saying the players refused to follow instructions and safety is the airline's top priority.

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