Alaska Airlines agent injured in assault that began because of mask

SeaTac, Wash. — An alarming attack at Seattle-Tacoma International that began over the wearing of a mask.

It happened just before an Alaska Airlines flight took off for Sitka, Alaska, as passengers were boarding the flight at Gate N14.

It was midday Monday afternoon. A 47-year-old California man had flown into Sea-Tac airport on an Alaska Airlines flight out of Sacramento. He had a layover before he was set to catch a flight to Sitka.

But he never boarded.

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"About 12:30 yesterday afternoon, Port of Seattle police were called in for a reported assault against an Alaska Airlines agent," said Perry Cooper, SEA spokesman.

Jill Simpson Lopotosky, a longtime gate airline agent, was one of three agents at the N14 gate. The man had approached them earlier while not wearing a mask. They reminded him that masks are required. He just walked away.

When he returned, he did put on a mask. But by then, the agents said he was too intoxicated to fly.

Cooper watched the surveillance video that shows what happened next.

“And then quite suddenly, the gentleman just decided to go through one of the people, a woman, and essentially walked right through her and over the top of her as she fell down onto the ground and tried to continue on through to the jetway,” said Cooper.

The man appeared to still be trying to get on the flight. "Yes," said Cooper.

The impact partially dislocated Lopotosky's shoulder and hurt her back. She was taken to Highline Hospital as a precaution.

The man, identified as Mark Allen Hicks, of Folsom, California, was taken into custody.

Cooper said what happened here was unusual. And that was borne out by the number of people wearing masks at the airport.

"Everybody should be wearing a mask anywhere they go to protect themselves, to protect other people," said passenger Mindy Tran, an Everett nurse headed to Texas to help treat COVID-19 patients.

In fact, on Aug. 5, Alaska Airlines announced no one will be allowed to fly at all without a mask.

And anyone who won't wear one during the flight won't be allowed to fly with the airline again.

Hicks bailed out of the King County Jail on Monday night, long after his flight had left for Sitka.