January 17, 2013 at 8:16 PM
Military jets escort Alaska flight into Sea-Tac; FBI questions passenger
UPDATE 10:20 P.M.| The FBI has finished interviewing the man they questioned this evening and have not found him to be a threat.
“We’re not anticipating any subsequent detention,” said FBI spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich.
Two F-15 jets guided an Alaska Airlines flight from Hawaii into Sea-Tac International Airport tonight after someone told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that a passenger was a possible hijacker.
According to the Port of Seattle, the FBI questioned one man after Flight 819 from Kona, Hawaii, landed safely around 7 p.m. with no one injured. K-9 units checked the plane after landing, according to Port spokesman Perry Cooper.
Cooper also said no situation during the flight prompted the elevated security landing.
The passenger questioned by agents was named as a security threat by someone who called the FBI this afternoon, according Honolulu-based FBI agent Tom Simon. North American Aerospace Defense Command directed two F-15 fighter jets from the Oregon Air National Guard to escort the flight into Seattle around 6:15 p.m., according to a NORAD release.
Simon said the passenger is being interviewed by FBI agents in Seattle to see if he was indeed a security threat. If not, the FBI will turn its investigation toward the person who called in to say the passenger was a threat.
“Making a prank call like that is a federal crime,” Simon said. ”If this turns out to be a hoax, this will be turned into evidence against that person.”
Alaska crew members observed no unusual behavior from the passenger, who was asleep for much of the flight, according to airline spokesman Paul McElroy. Passengers were not made aware of the investigation until after the landing, when FBI agents entered the rear of the plane to detain the man.
As of 8:50 p.m., FBI agents in Seattle had detected no security threat, according to bureau spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich.
“We made contact with the individual with no incident,” Dietrich said. “He was cooperative and, from what we could determine on-scene, there’s no information suggesting a public safety threat yet.”
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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