According to documents filed in U.S. District Court, after putting out the fire, the flight attendant exited the bathroom, stood in the hallway for several minutes and pretended to discover a fire.
Tafoya-Montano later contacted the captain and reported that he extinguished the fire. They say the fire led to an emergency landing at Detroit Metro Airport.
Passengers debarked without incident, but investigators say Tafoya-Montano lied about the cause of the fire – a couple of times. After that, the plane was granted emergency status and landed at the aforementioned airport. Authorities however found several of his claims inconsistent. He reportedly admitted that he set paper towels on fire with a green Bic lighter and immediately put out the fire, CBS reported. Once the fire gained intensity, he doused the flames himself and portrayed himself a hero.
The FBI said an investigation revealed that Tafoya-Montano started the fire.
After the hearing he was escorted back to Detroit Airport and boarded a flight back to Dallas. The court had also asked Johnathan to remain seated during the entire duration of the flight. It remains unclear what Tafoya-Montano’s motive was in setting paper towels on fire.
The fire broke out on a February 1 flight from Dallas to Detroit.
Tafoya-Montano was released on bond with conditions; he’s not allowed to fly without the court’s permission.
According to court testimony, Tafoya-Montano had worked for American Airlines for about a year and a half. In 2014, he was arrested once for DUI and was convicted.