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Cursing, beer and a popped chute as flight attendant quits

From Susan Candiotti, Laura Batchelor and Jesse Solomon, CNN
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Fed-up flight attendant charged
  • NEW: NYPD's Kelly: 'Strange way to quit' your job
  • Source: Jet Blue waits 25 minutes to report incident
  • Police arrest flight attendant at his home in Queens
  • Flight attendant, passenger had words while plane was moving

New York (CNN) -- Call them the not-so-friendly skies.

A flight attendant cursed out passengers, grabbed a beer then triggered an emergency chute Monday at a JFK Airport terminal, authorities say.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said it "appears" Steven Slater was quitting.

"It's a strange way to quit, let's put it that way," he said. "I don't think he'll be able to come back."

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Police arrested Slater for allegedly triggering the emergency escape chute, a spokeswoman for the district attorney said.

Slater was arrested at his home and charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass, said Helen Peterson at the Queens District Attorney's Office.

The incident took place just after the Jet Blue flight landed when a passenger stood to remove a bag from the overhead bin while the plane was still taxiing, a law enforcement source with direct knowledge said. A flight attendant exchanged words with the passenger, and the conversation escalated.

Slater picked up the intercom and used expletives directed at the passengers, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. It is not clear exactly what was said on the intercom. The source said that when the plane at stopped at the gate, Slater then grabbed some beer from the beverage cart before deploying the emergency slide and using it to leave the plane.

Video: Flight attendant flipped out?
Video: Flight attendant arrested
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New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that it "appears" the flight attendant quit his job in a very dramatic way.

"I know the facts that have been related to me -- the plane was taxiing in, some passenger got up to take their bag down, the steward -- flight attendant -- approached, told him to not do that," said Kelly. "He called him an expletive and apparently hit him or pushed him in some way. The story got on the radio based on a statement that 'I've been doing this for twenty years and I'm out of here.'"

"It's a strange way to quit, let's put it that way," he said. "I don't think he'll be able to come back."

The law enforcement source said that Port Authority police did not learn about the incident for about 20 to 25 minutes after it took place. Jet Blue public affairs would not respond to that claim.

The airline also would not confirm any details of the incident but said that the evacuation slide was deployed on a plane that had parked at the gate after arriving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The identity of the passenger involved in the altercation has not been confirmed.

As a rule, passengers are required to stay in their seats with their seatbelts fastened until the pilot has reached the gate and gives the all clear sign.

Peterson said the second degree criminal mischief and first degree reckless endangerment charges are felonies that could land Slater in jail for up to seven years. The criminal trespass charge and two other lesser mischief and endangerment charges are misdemeanors.

CNN's Doug Gross contributed to this report.