LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The family of a man investigators say took a plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport described him as a “faithful husband” and “loving son.”
“It may seem difficult for those watching at home to believe but Beebo was a warm, compassionate man,” said loved ones of Richard Russell.
Russell, nicknamed Beebo, was a ground service agent who worked for the airline for 3.5 years and had full security clearance.
Even without a pilot’s license, authorities say he pulled off hair-raising maneuvers in the air, some of which were caught in amateur video taken in Washington State.
The plane flew erratically as air traffic controllers referred to the man flying the plane as “Rich.”
Plane: “[Expletive] people’s lives are at stake here.”
ATC: “Now Rich, don’t-don’t say stuff like that.”
Plane: “Nah, I told you, I don’t want to hurt no one.”
“He worked his shift yesterday. We believe he was in uniform. His job is to be around airplanes,” said Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Air Group.
Within minutes, two F-15 military fighter jets scrambled and intercepted the plane. An hour after the saga started, it ended in a fiery crash.
Russell posted several videos on YouTube proclaiming his love for his job.
The brazen act has raised serious security concerns. The FBI is now handling the investigation.