Police are investigating a possible hate crime after a violent attack on a female flight attendant at the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. The victim suffered minor injuries and is expected to recover.
32-year-old Brandon Smith was arrested early Friday morning after a violent attack on a female flight attendant as she went to her car after work. Around 2:15 in the morning, the unnamed victim was on the Sky Train platform at 44th Street and Van Buren Street, a sometimes desolate stop leaving the airport, when she was attacked by Smith.
The victim helped authorities identify Smith as her attacker and statements made to the police took the investigation in the direction of a hate crime. The Phoenix Police Department’s Bias Unit was engaged to assist in the investigation.
A report from local Arizona news source Arizona’s Family shared comments from a flight attendant about the dangerous stop.
“I was shocked but not really shocked because Iâ€™ve seen whatâ€™s around in the area. And there hasnâ€™t been security or whatnot up here. Iâ€™m always making sure if I am alone here at night, if I get off a trip weâ€™re pretty good that we have coworkers, pilots or whatnot that weâ€™re making sure weâ€™re going in pairs.â€FA interview with Arizona’s Family
Kim Brown, an airport employee who was also interviewed by Arizona’s Family, said, “I do see a lot of homeless out here near 44th Street and that has concerned me because you never know what attitude theyâ€™re going to have.”
Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport issued an official statement regarding the incident and ongoing investigation:
“The safety and security of our employees and customers is our top priority. We are very concerned about the assault of this employee and we commend her for her bravery and composure, which assisted Police in quickly arresting the suspect. We are constantly assessing the security environment at the airport, and we will closely examine what lead to this incident to determine whether additional security measures can and should be implemented.”Sky Harbor Airport Statement