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American Airlines Flight Diverted Over Passengers Fighting

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An American Airlines flight from Dallas-Fort Worth en route to Los Angeles had to be diverted to Phoenix after two women traveling together got into a fight with another woman over an alleged racial slur.

The incident happened on Wednesday, Feb. 24, and came to light today.

American Flight 776 made an emergency landing in Phoenix after two women got into an argument and then a physical altercation with another passenger, who asked them to stop using a racial slur.

In a statement to NBC News, American Airlines said law enforcement officials boarded the plane in Phoenix and “removed and arrested two individuals for verbally and physically assaulting other customers and flight crew members.”

Phoenix police identified the women as Kelly Pichardo, 30, and Leeza Rodriguez, 29. According to authorities, witnesses said that Pichardo and Rodriguez were using a racial slur when a male passenger asked them to stop using that language.

“Kelly Pichardo became upset and allegedly spit at the male passenger who had asked her to stop using that language,” a police statement read. “The male passenger then began to record the two women and that is when Leeza Rodriguez struck the man’s hand to keep him from recording the incident.”

Both women were charged with disorderly conduct. Pichardo faces an additional charge of assault.

They were placed on an internal refuse list pending further investigation, American Airlines said, calling their conduct “disturbing and unacceptable.” ‘Internal refuse’ means they won’t be allowed to board an American Airlines flight even with paid tickets.

“We continue to investigate this incident and are working directly with impacted customers to ensure their well-being. We thank our crew members for their professionalism in managing a difficult situation,” the airline said.

The flight eventually continued on to Los Angeles.

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