& # 039; Stunned and disconsolate & # 039;: Seattle family airplane thief in shock after accident

<pre><pre>& # 039; Stunned and disconsolate & # 039;: Seattle family airplane thief in shock after accident

A 29-year-old "suicide" airport worker who seized an empty plane from Seattle's main airport and took it on a one-hour flight chased by F-15 fighter jets before crashing into a small island did not commit any violations Security, officials said Saturday.

Horizon Air employee, Richard Russell, told an air traffic controller that he was "just a man torn apart" minutes before dying Friday night on the twin-engine turboprop aircraft Bombardier Q400, appearing to apologize for his actions. Law enforcement officers identified him to the media in the United States.

The authorities ruled out any link to terror. Russell "had legitimate access" to the plane, said Mike Ehl, director of aviation operations at the airport in the northwestern state of Washington, adding that "no security breaches were committed."

A Horizon Air Bombardier Q400, as the stolen axis towards the runway of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

EPa

Alaska Airlines also confirmed that the 27-year-old pilot had been "verified" and had worked a shift at the airport before stealing the plane. It is understood that he could have been in uniform when he boarded the plane.

Russell lived locally and had acted alone, police said.

"At this time, we believe he was the only one on the plane, but of course, we have not confirmed it at the crash site," Jay Tabb, head of the Seattle division of the FBI told reporters.

Richard Russell worked as a ground service agent for Horizon Air.

Richard Russell worked as a ground service agent for Horizon Air.

AFP

The family of the airline worker issued a statement, saying they were "dazed and heartbroken" to the death of "Beebo."

"It may seem difficult for those who see at home to believe, but Beebo was a warm and compassionate man," the statement said.

"He was a faithful husband, a loving son and a good friend."

According to an online blog, Russell lived in Sumner, Washington. He was born in Key West, Florida, and moved to Wasilla, Alaska, when he was seven years old.

A video taken by a bystander showed that the 76-seat plane formed a large slow loop while American Air Force F-15s chased and then flew over Puget Sound before crashing into sparsely populated Ketron Island, setting trees ablaze. .

"As far as we know, he did not have a pilot's license," Gary Beck, CEO of Horizon, an affiliate of Alaska Airlines, told reporters.

"Commercial airplanes are complex machines … I have no idea how he achieved that experience."

Llamas poured from the accident site.

Llamas poured from the accident site.

Supplied

But Russell's role at Horizon, where he worked since 2015, involved towing planes as part of a two-person team, in addition to loading and unloading cargo and luggage and cleaning the plane, according to Beck.

"At this time, we believe he was the only one on the plane, but of course, we have not confirmed it at the accident site," said Jay Tabb, head of the Seattle division of the FBI.

Joyrider or suicide?

Dismissing a terrorist link, Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said that "most terrorists do not loop over water … This could have been a terribly bad pleasure trip."

Ed Troyer, from the sheriff's office, described Russell as "suicidal."

The plane was stolen around 8:00 p.m. (0300 GMT Saturday) and crashed 90 minutes later, authorities said.

The sheriff's office said the F-15s arrived minutes after the plane was stolen and kept the plane "out of danger and people on the ground safe."

The fighter jets flew at supersonic speed, which caused a boom that was first considered an explosion, while they ran to intercept the plane.

President Donald Trump received information and the White House praised the authorities' rapid response to the crisis.

& # 39; Broken Boy & # 39;

John Waldron, who captured the plane's loop-the-loop video, told CNN he was out for a nighttime ride and initially thought the plane was practicing for an air show.

He estimated that the plane, at its lowest point, was not more than 100 feet (30 meters) above the water.

As Russell plummeted down into the water, "we were all shouting, 'My God, my God!' And I was screaming, 'Start, lift!'" He said.

Emergency services at the airport, after the theft.

Emergency services at the airport, after the theft.

EPA

In a conversation with the control tower, the pilot was excitable, confused and even apologized.

"Congratulations, you did it," the control tower tells him, according to an audio broadcast issued by CNN.

"Turn the air and land and do not hurt anyone on the ground."

"I do not know, friend," the pilot replies. "I do not want to, I was hoping it was that, you know."

During the conversation, Russell said he had put some fuel on the plane "to go see the Olympics": the Olympic Mountains that are 160 kilometers (160 miles) away.

But later he worried that he was running out of fuel, saying the fuel had burned "a lot faster than he expected."

The control tower urged him to land at a nearby military base.

"I would not like to do that, they probably have antiaircraft," he replies.

"This is probably jail for life, huh?" then says, according to a recording published by The Seattle Times.

"I have a lot of people who care about me, they'll be disappointed to hear I did this," he said.

"I would like to apologize to each and every one of them, just a broken guy with some loose screws, I guess, I've never known it until now."

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