2 Are Arrested After Brawl With Police at Miami Airport

The skirmish, which was captured on video, happened as the airport was bracing for heavy holiday passenger traffic despite a surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.,

The skirmish, which was captured on video, happened as the airport was bracing for heavy holiday passenger traffic despite a surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

MIAMI — Two men were arrested after the authorities said they clashed with police officers on Monday at Miami International Airport, which is expecting a record number of passengers for the holiday season.

The men — Mayfrer Gregorio Serranopaca, 30, of Kissimmee, Fla., and Alberto YanezSuarez, 32, of Odessa, Texas — were each charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department, which is investigating the episode. Mr. Serranopaca also faces additional charges, including resisting an officer with violence and inciting a riot.

Mr. Serranopaca and Mr. YanezSuarez could not be reached on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear if the men had lawyers.

The skirmish, which was captured on a cellphone video that circulated widely on social media, took place at about 6:30 p.m. Monday, when officers responded to a call from an airport employee about a disturbance at Gate H8.

The employee told police officers that he was driving a transport cart when an “unruly passenger refused to let him through,” according to an arrest report. The man, later identified as Mr. Serranopaca, “entered the cart, broke the key and refused to exit the cart,” the report said. The airport worker told the police that the passenger was complaining in Spanish about a delayed flight.

As the officers tried to calm Mr. Serranopaca, a physical confrontation ensued, attracting a large crowd.

The video showed a chaotic crowd of travelers surrounding an officer who appeared to restrain Mr. Serranopaca with his arms. When the officer released him from a hold, the two scuffled.

At one point, the officer and Mr. Serranopaca separated, and Mr. Serranopaca charged at the officer, his arms flailing.

The video shows the officer breaking away, stepping back and drawing a firearm. As officers tried to arrest Mr. Serranopaca, the police said that Mr. YanezSuarez was “grabbing and pulling officers” off him.

Firefighters also responded to the scene after Mr. Serranopaca bit one officer on the head, the police said. Mr. Serranopaca and Mr. YanezSuarez were both arrested.

The altercation took place as airports across the country are experiencing heavy holiday traffic. Covid-19 cases have surged, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, leading some people to rethink their holiday plans, but millions of travelers are forging ahead.

More than 109 million Americans are expected to travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, a 34 percent increase from last year, according to AAA. The number of airline passengers alone is projected to rise 184 percent from last year.

“Like airports across the country, MIA is seeing record-high passenger numbers this winter travel season,” Ralph Cuti?, the director and chief executive officer of Miami International Airport, said in a statement.

The Miami airport said it expected about 2.6 million travelers — an average of about 156,000 per day — to pass through its gates from Tuesday through Jan. 6, an increase of 6 percent over the same period in 2019.

“Unfortunately, that passenger growth has come with a record-high increase nationwide in bad behavior as well,” Mr. Cuti? said, noting the altercation at the airport on Monday.

Disruptive passengers could face arrest, civil penalties up to $37,000, being barred from flying and possible federal prosecution, Mr. Cuti? said.

He urged people to travel responsibly “by getting to the airport extra early, being patient, complying with the federal mask law and airport staff, limiting your alcohol consumption and notifying police at the first sign of bad behavior by calling 911.”

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