Plane stolen by ’suicidal’ employee crashes near Seattle

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An airline worker stole an empty plane from Seattle airport on Friday and crashed it into a nearby sparsely populated island, sparking a security scare that saw USA fighter jets scrambled.

He then said he would perform a last barrel role before he crashed into a sparsely populated area of Ketron Island. There were no passengers aboard. Later, he said he's "got a lot of people that care about me".

Two military F-15s were scrambled to pursue the plane, but were not involved in the crash.

The plane was in a "maintenance position", the company said, and was not scheduled for any passenger flights.

There was no indication that the incident was an act of terror, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department said on Twitter.

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the sheriff's department, said on Twitter the man was suicidal and there was no connection to terrorism. "Our hearts are with the family of the individual aboard as well as all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees". No one else was believed to be on board the Q400 turboprop.

Alaska Airlines said that it was aware of an unauthorized take-off of a Q400 twin-engine turboprop airplane operated by its sister carrier Horizon Air.

Authorities initially said the man was a mechanic but Alaska Airlines later said he was believed to be a ground service agent employed by Horizon.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee thanked the fighter pilots for keeping residents safe.

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On the air-traffic control feed, the air-traffic controller can be heard trying to persuade the man, who he addressed as Rich and Richard, to land safely at a nearby airstrip. I don't want to.

Normal operations at the airport were interrupted briefly, the airport said.

One witness filmed the plane doing a large loop-the-loop, which they first thought was part of an air show rehearsal.

Audio exchanges between an air traffic controller and the pilot have been released. "I mean, I would hope it is, for a guy like me". "I'm a broken guy who had a few screws loose".

"Oh man. Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there", the man responded, later adding "This is probably jail time for life, huh?"

John Waldron, who took dramatic video of the stolen plane flying in a loop, told CNN that he was out for an evening stroll when he saw the two fighter jets following the turboprop airplane. "Never really knew it until now".

"I don't know, man", the pilot answers.

Witnesses described the surreal scene after the plane left the airport. "The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low".

The White House said Saturday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpKavanaugh once said president would likely have to testify before grand jury if subpoenaed: report Twitter says InfoWars account will remain online despite violating its rules Melania Trump family immigration lawyer praises so-called "chain migration" MORE, now staying at his Bedminster, New Jersey resort, had been briefed on the situation. Prior to crashing, the aircraft was filmed conducting extreme maneuvers over the Puget Sound, including a barrel roll and inverted vertical dive culminating in a high g pull-out just a few feet above the water's surface.