On Friday, a Bombardier Q400 turboprop without passengers crashed shortly after an unauthorized takeoff from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, in what police said was a suicide not related to terrorism. The man who stole the plane has been identified as Richard Russell.
The 29-year-old hijacker, a ground services employee with Horizon Air, part of Alaska Airlines, was known to his relatives as “Beebo” and described by them as “a warm, compassionate man.”
“He was a faithful husband, a loving son and a good friend. A childhood friend remarked that Beebo was loved by everyone because he was kind and gentle to each person he met,” Richard Russell’s family said in a statement.
They referred to the stolen plane’s voice recordings which they said show that “Beebo’s intent was not to harm anyone and he was right in saying that there are so many people who loved him.”
The Seattle Times cited Rick Christenson, a former co-worker, as saying that Russell was “a quiet guy” who “seemed like he was well liked by the other workers.”
Horizon CEO Gary Beck, in turn, said that it remains unclear how Russell learned to start, taxi and fly an aircraft, performing aerial stunts, because “unlike a car, there’s not a key that you stick in and turn.”
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Russell was reportedly part of part of Horizon’s tow team tasked with moving planes around on…