United passenger tried to bite off ear of seatmate

[Update 3-19-2021, 12:36pm PT: The Post and Courier reports that Yurkovich has an additional charge of federal assault, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.]

When John Yurkovich (45) boarded a United flight from Newark, New Jersey to Miami, he probably didn't expect he'd be landing in North Carolina instead, facedown on the floor with his hands tied behind his back and his shirt pulled over his head. That's what happens to people who try to bite off the ears of their seatmates, I suppose.

The victim said in a police report that he was sitting next to Yurkovich, who "seemed very agitated" and was bouncing in his seat. Yurkovich asked a flight attendant for water, then took what looked to be pills from his luggage. The pills didn't calm Yurkovich down. If anything, they made him even more agitated. He began to "scream and thrash around," the report says.

From there, things took a turn for the worse.

Live 5 WCSC reports:

The victim said he held his arm up to protect himself from being struck and said the man struck him with a closed fist on the right side of his face causing his glasses to break.

Witnesses and other passengers then intervened to restrain the man, the report states.

A second victim said the man struck him and may have caused a broken nose.

Police talked to a third victim who said he was punched in the head as well.

A passenger on the plane who identified himself as a physician told police he administered a shot of Benadryl to the man's buttocks to help sedate him.

Yurkovich was charged with possession of methamphetamine. At his court hearing he told the judge the police have it all wrong. "It's not what they say it is. That's a special kind of . . . it's a cat tranquilizer actually. It's not what they're saying it is," he said.

According to Live 5 WCSC, Yurkovich is a branch manager for Nations Lending. I've heard of lenders to like to talk people's ears off, but biting them off seems like an overly assertive sales tactic. Here's a video welcoming him to the company.

Yurkovich is being held in $50,000 bond.

From the FBI report:

On March 17, 2021, I interviewed J.H., a witness passenger seated adjacent to Yurkovich. J.H. provided the following information:

a. During the flight, Yurkovich was seated in seat 11C.

b. Approximately 50 minutes into the flight, Yurkovich got out of his seat and went to the rear of the airplane.

c. When Yurkovich returned to his seat, Yurkovich was acting erratic and
appeared to be off-balanced. When he was seated, Yurkovich yelled out loud capturing the attention of several other passengers in the surrounding area. A flight attendant responded, asking Yurkovich if he needed anything, to which Yurkovich yelled at the flight attendant to get him water. Yurkovich then stood up and opened/closed the overhead compartment multiple times. Yurkovich opened his bag, which was in the compartment above, took out a pill box, and appeared to consume a pill(s).

d. When Yurkovich placed the pill box back into his bag, Yurkovich backed into J.H. J.H. attempted to brace himself from Yurkovich falling onto him.

e. Yurkovich turned around and began shouting at J.H. Yurkovich was shouting in J.H.'s face, "Don't fucking talk to me" and "Don't touch me", among other things. When Yurkovich was yelling at J.H., he pulled his face mask off and leaned forward putting his face within inches of J.H. J.H. advised he felt spit on his face due to Yurkovich yelling at him so close to his face. J.H. did not touch Yurkovich.

f. Yurkovich then proceeded to punch J.H. in the face several times. J.H. does not know how many times he was hit. The first punch from Yurkovich landed on the left ear and left side of J.H.'s face. The first punch also broke J.H.'s glasses. J.H. attempted to shield his face with his arms from additional punches. J.H. was still seated and confined to his seat by his seatbelt throughout the assault. J.H. then wrapped his arms around Yurkovich in an attempt to prevent additional punches, J.H. also attempted to pull Yurkovich's shirt over his head.

g. Several other passengers intervened and restrained Yurkovich. Yurkovich was placed in zip-ties around his wrist that were provided by the flight attendant. Yurkovich was restrained until the flight arrived in Charleston.

h. Following the incident, J.H. was bleeding excessively from his ear where he was struck by Yurkovich's punch(es). A doctor on board the flight treated him by applying a bandage to treat the bleeding.

i. J.H. was treated at a hospital in Miami, Florida. Doctors advised J.H. had
several hematoma's to his face and head and received a computerized
tomography ("CT") scan to check for internal bleeding. J.H. also received 7
sutures to repair a laceration to his left ear.