Federal officials say the report of a hijacker onboard an Alaska Airlines flight bound for Seattle was a hoax.
Flight 819 from Kona, Hawaii was escorted into Sea-Tac airport by two F-15 fighter jets from the Oregon National Guard after an anonymous caller to the FBI field office in Honolulu said a man on the flight was planning to take passengers hostage.
The flight landed safely at 7:05 PST and was met by officials from the FBI, the Port of Seattle and the Transportation Security Administration.
A man onboard was taken into custody and a K-9 unit was brought in to search the plane for explosives.
The man, who had been named specifically by the caller, was questioned and released around 10:20 p.m.
“The individual that was taken off the flight and questioned by the FBI last night was definitely not a hijacker,” said Special Agent Tom Simon with the FBI in Honolulu. “He was very cooperative, he answered all of our questions, and he was every bit as dismayed as we were why somebody would have made that type of call to the FBI.”
Simon said the FBI will turn their focus to the caller, who could face up to five years in a federal prison.
“Making a crank call to the FBI is not like ordering a pizza to your neighbor as a practical joke,” he said. “It’s no laughing matter.”