Malaysia Airlines Flight MH128 out of Melbourne and heading to Kuala Lumpur had to turn back after a passenger made what turned out to be a false Bomb Threat on the plane. It was when the man attempted to enter the cockpit that the flight had to turn around. The Airbus A330 with 337 passengers and crew, was only in the air for 30 minutes before it had to return. Saying the incident was not terror-related, Melbourne police said the flight landed safely and the man was arrested on arrival.

Passenger runs down the aisle of the Malaysia Airlines plane

A witness on the plane told the BBC that the man was carrying a highly unusual object, which was later established by police to not be a threat. However, the suspect reportedly ran down the aisle of the Malaysia Airlines plane and three “Aussie heroes” tackled him, wrestling him to the ground. Andrew Leoncelli went on to say that the three men completely immobilized the suspect.

Sri Lankan man had just been released from a psychiatric facility

As reported by the LA Times, Victoria Police Chief Graham Ashton later said the 25-year-old man, who was originally from Sri Lanka, had been released Wednesday from a psychiatric facility in Melbourne.

Ashton said while they initially handled the incident as a possible terror threat, they eventually determined a mental health issue was the root cause of the incident.

According to the police, the unusual object held by the Sri Lankan was a Bluetooth speaker, or similar, which was later described by Malaysia’s Deputy Transport Minister as a “powerbank.” According to Leoncelli, a former professional football player, the object had two antennae and what looked like a smartphone input.

He went on to say the man told the flight attendants that he needed to see the captain. When they didn’t accede to his request, he then became “really agitated” and began to make threats, all the while making “button-pressing motions.” Leoncelli told the 3AW radio station the man had threatened to blow up the plane, which prompted flight crew to scream for help.

Witness called on fellow passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight to help

Leoncelli said he told other passengers of the existence of a real threat on the plane and that they needed to do something about it. While he wouldn’t name the passengers who tackled and overpowered the Sri Lankan, he did say they are “good fellas.”

Delay between landing of Malaysia Airlines plane and police intervention

It was shortly prior to midnight local time that heavily-armed police entered the plane and placed the Sri Lankan under arrest. However, there was reportedly a 90-minute delay between the time the Malaysia Airlines flight landed and the arrival of the police.

Ashton defended the delay by saying counter-terrorism officers feared the presence of other potential terror suspects or explosive devices on the plane.

Ashton added that if other explosive devices were triggered when police boarded the plane, it could have been a mass casualty incident. While initial information had said the suspect was an Australian citizen, Ashton went on to say he had been living in the city on a current visa.

As noted by the LA Times, Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews offered support to the Malaysia Airlines passengers stranded by the incident, saying he doesn’t think anyone understands the trauma that is suffered by a frightening experience of this nature.

Andrews went on to caution governments against responding to the incident by banning mentally ill persons from boarding flights. He said it is important not to drive people away from receiving the care they need and it is important not to stigmatize mental illness more than it is already.