Philly love triangle leads to plane scare, arrests

A bizarre love triangle to blame for a midair explosives scare that led to an aborted flight and a man being taken into custody twice in two states.

Philadelphia: A bizarre love triangle is to blame for a midair explosives scare that led to an aborted flight and a man being taken into custody twice in two states within about 12 hours, authorities say.

The curious case of Christopher Shell began on Thursday in Philadelphia, apparently triggered by a Facebook photo he posted of his ex-girlfriend and fueled by his feud with her and her new boyfriend.

It ended yesterday in Texas.

In that time, Philadelphia police recalled Shell`s Dallas-bound flight and marched him off the aircraft at gunpoint; Shell cleared his name; authorities arrested the new beau, Kenneth W Smith Jr, on charges of making a hoax threat about Shell and explosives; and Shell was taken into custody again on drug charges when he finally reached Texas to celebrate his 29th birthday.

Both Shell and Smith posted bonds yesterday in their respective cases.

Shell declined to comment.

Smith`s lawyer, Bill Brennan, described his client as "embarrassed" by the consequences of the alleged threat.

"My client is very, very sobered by the amount of attention this has received," Brennan said after Smith`s initial appearance in federal court in Philadelphia.

"He`s not very happy about it."

Passengers weren`t very happy either when the scare rerouted US Airways Flight 1267 on Thursday.

They were about 145 kilometers into their trip from Philadelphia to Dallas/Fort Worth when the aircraft turned around, allegedly due to technical problems.

After landing back at Philadelphia Airport, heavily armed law enforcement officers boarded the plane and removed Shell.

During questioning, he told authorities of the romantic feud, which involved hostile text messages with his ex and encounters with Smith, according to a federal affidavit.

Shell gave officers the name of Smith`s workplace.

And upon arrival, authorities said Smith acknowledged calling airport police from a payphone to say that Shell was carrying liquid explosives.

Smith said he did it to "avenge" his new girlfriend because Shell had posted a compromising picture of her on Facebook, the affidavit said.

"It is the kind of photo that would incense a boyfriend," said Brennan, Smith`s lawyer.

Smith, 26, of Philadelphia, was charged with conveying false information that interfered with aviation and using an instrument of commerce the phone to do so.


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