Philadelphia: A man charged Friday for making a hoax threat that caused a midair explosives scare ending with authorities recalling a Texas-bound plane in mid-air and forcing an unwitting passenger off the plane at gunpoint was apparently involved in a love triangle with the passenger, according to court records.
Kenneth W Smith Jr called police at the Philadelphia airport yesterday morning to report that a passenger heading to Texas was carrying a liquid explosive, authorities said.
Smith admitted he made the call from a payphone to "avenge" his girlfriend, because the passenger had posted a compromising picture of her on Facebook, authorities said.
Officials recalled US Airways Flight 1267 which was about 145 kilometers away to Philadelphia, where the plane was surrounded by law enforcement and passenger Christopher Shell was taken off at gunpoint. Authorities later said he did nothing wrong.
Shell gave officers the name of Smith`s workplace, where he was questioned.
During questioning, Shell told authorities of a feud involving him, his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend "Kenny." Shell had recently traded "hostile messages" on his cellphone with his ex-girlfriend about the situation, according to the affidavit.
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.
He was scheduled for an initial appearance in federal court today afternoon. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to USD 250,000 and possible restitution.
Authorities had stressed yesterday that Shell was blameless for the scare. He continued his travel late yesterday to Texas, where he planned to celebrate his 29th birthday with friends and family, but authorities arrested him when he arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Texas authorities said Shell had outstanding warrants for two drug-possession charges less than 2 ounces of marijuana and less than 28 grams of a controlled substance. He was jailed today morning on USD 3,000 bond in Collin County near Dallas.