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Man accused of attacking flight attendant at Sky Harbor Airport being investigated as a hate crime

Authorities said the flight attendant suffered minor injuries in the attack.

PHOENIX — A 32-year-old man was arrested Friday for reportedly attacking a flight attendant at Sky Harbor Airport, according to the Phoenix Police Department.

Authorities said Brandon Smith is accused of assaulting the flight attendant around 2:15 a.m., as she was leaving the airport. The victim suffered minor injuries in the attack, police said. 

The bias crimes unit is investigating the assault as a hate crime after Smith allegedly told the woman to "go back to your f*cking country." 

Court documents revealed that Smith kicked the flight attendant from behind and then punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground. Once on the ground, officials said Smith kicked her again and punched her three to four more times. 

Officials said the woman began kicking at Smith and he backed off until he grabbed a five foot metal sign and threw it at her at close distance. Smith then allegedly threw a metal hand sanitizer stand, hitting the woman. 

Another woman tried to intervene, but officials said Smith told her "she would get it too." 

Authorities said Smith reasoned that he punched the women because "they were stealing his identity and money valued at $2 million."

The attack was unprovoked and both women were caught off guard, officials said. 

Sky Harbor issued the following statement Friday night in response to the reported attack:

"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."

Additional charges are pending according to police.

Silent Witness:

Arizona's Silent Witness program allows people to send in tips and share information about crimes happening within their local communities.

The program shares unsolved felony case information in multiple ways, including TV, radio and social media.

Anyone who has information on a crime or recognizes a suspect described by the program is asked to call 480-948-6377, go to the program's website online or download the Silent Witness app to provide a tip. The identity of anyone who submits a tip is kept anonymous.

Calls to Silent Witness are answered 24/7 by a live person and submitted tips are accepted at all times. Submitted tips are then sent to the detective(s) in charge of the specific case.

Individuals who submit tips that lead to an arrest or indictment in the case can get a reward of up to $1,000.

Have a tip? Submit it on the Silent Witness tip form here.

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