A plane has crashed near Sea-Tac airport in Seattle after being stolen by an airline worker and perused by F-15 fighter jets. The incident has not been connected to terrorism.
Alaska Airlines confirmed there was an "unauthorized take-off" of a Horizon Air plane from Sea-Tac airport around 9.50 p.m Friday evening (04:50 Saturday UTC). The aircraft crashed on Ketron Island in Puget Sound. Two military F-15s were scrambled to pursue the plane, but were not involved in the crash. Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed.
The man who stole the plane is believed to be a ground service agent. Preliminary information had suggested it was stolen by a mechanic. The local sheriff's office said the crash may have been caused by the man "doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills." Sheriff Paul Pastor said on Twitter it was not a terrorist incident and the plane had been stolen by a local 29-year-old "suicidal male" who acted alone and was likely killed in the crash. His identity is known but has not been released.
The FBI's Seattle field office said on Twitter it was working with local, state and federal partners, but it was "too early for us to put out details on the evolving situation."
FBI is communicating w/local/state/federal partners, but it's too early for us to put out details on the evolving situation. We frequently get involved w/aircraft-related matters, so we're poised to act if info develops to suggest a federal criminal nexusFBI Seattle (@FBISeattle) August 11, 2018
The governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and Oregon on Twitter "for scrambling jets to keep Washingtonians safe." He added, "The responding fighter pilots flew alongside the aircraft and were ready to do whatever was needed to protect us, but in the end the man flying the stolen plane crashed."
"The sky was filled with fighter jets, you could hear it," local resident Jeff Duncan told DW. He said he thought it was some military drills from the nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the US West. Unverified video footage on social media showed a large plane flying above the Seattle area with an F-15 following it.