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Sheriff’s officials said a man who stole an Alaska Airlines plane from an airport in Washington state was “suicidal” and his actions were not connected to terrorism.
Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, said on Twitter Friday night that a 29-year-old airline mechanic stole a Horizon Air Q400 from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
No passengers were on board and normal operations have resumed at the airfield, the airport said on Twitter.
Sea-Tac Airport tweet: An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac; aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound. Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed.
Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft before it crashed near Ketron Island. There were no passengers aboard. Two military F-15s pursued the plane but were not involved in the crash, KIRO7 news station in Seattle reported.
Alaska Airlines said that it was aware of an unauthorized take-off of an airplane operated by a sister carrier Horizon Air.
The sheriff’s department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the man, whose name was not immediately released.
The man could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he’s “got a lot of people that care about me” and that he is “just a broken guy.”
A Coast Guard spokeswoman said the agency was responding to a report of a smoke plume and possible plane crash. Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi said a 45-foot vessel was headed to the scene.
The Q400 ix a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.
—CNBC and Reuters contributed to this report.