A Horizon Air employee described as “suicidal” commandeered an empty turboprop passenger plane at Seattle’s main airport Friday night and roared low over Puget Sound — with a pair of Air Force F-15s in pursuit — before crashing it into a small island, authorities said.
The FBI’s Seattle field office on Friday said early signs do not point toward terrorism. Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Ed Troyer described the suspect as an unnamed suicidal 29-year-old man from the county “doing stunts in the air” before the crash.
The man, referred to as “Rich” and “Richard” by air traffic controllers in tense recordings, said he was “just a broken guy” as authorities tried to divert the 76-seat Bombardier Q400 away from populated areas.
He took off with the stolen aircraft at about 8 p.m. Friday from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and was an employee of Horizon Air, the Alaska Air Group said in a statement.