Thursday, December 01, 2022

FBI records released for man who stole Sea-Tac plane

Tacoma, Wash. ( Associated Press) — Newly released FBI documents show that the Sumner man who stole an airplane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 2018 seemed restless to his loved ones before the theft, on Ketron Island in Pierce County ended when the plane crashed. ,

According to records, 28-year-old Alaska Airlines ground worker Richard Russell entered an empty turboprop passenger plane on August 10 at 7:30 p.m. and flew for about an hour and 10 minutes, The News Tribune reports.,

Records show that the Air National Guard fired two fighter jets to stop the plane, but Russell intentionally crashed it.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s office ruled his death a suicide. According to records, people who knew Russell told FBI agents and other law enforcement personnel that they had no information that would suggest they knew about Russell’s plans to steal or crash the plane.

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“Contacts with Russell’s employer determined there was no personnel problem,” according to the record. “Russell was known to be a quiet man who read a lot. There was some absence of Russell, but nothing considered significant. ,

Other witnesses told FBI agents that Russell “failed to go to work on August 3 and felt as though he was not living up to what others expected,” records show. Witnesses said he went to work on August 4 to try to take a shift, but the next day he “looked strange,” and family friends attempted to intervene, according to the record.

“Russell seemed fine to family members after the intervention, although he was drinking more,” records show. “Week of August 6th, Russell seemed fine to family/friends.”

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Four days later, Russell boarded the plane, taxed and took off without authorization. The FBI found evidence that it was searching for flight simulators prior to the incident. They crashed the plane on the sparsely populated Ketron island. He was the only fatal one.

During the flight, Russell talked about his loved ones with air-traffic controllers.

“I want to apologize to each one of them,” he said. “Just a broken man. Some screws came loose. Never knew this until now.”

Federal investigators concluded that Russell acted alone.

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