Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

September 7, 2012

Pa. man charged in hoax that led to plane's recall

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man angry that his girlfriend's ex posted a compromising photo of her on Facebook led to a midair explosives scare and both men's arrests, authorities said Friday.

The new boyfriend, Kenneth W. Smith Jr., was arrested Friday on charges of making a hoax threat to police in Philadelphia, who recalled a Dallas-bound flight and marched the ex-beau, Christopher Shell, off the plane at gunpoint Thursday.

The episode led to Shell's own arrest on drug warrants after he finally reached Texas to celebrate his 29th birthday.

On Friday, both Shell and Smith posted bond.

Shell declined to comment. Smith's lawyer, Bill Brennan, described his client as "embarrassed" by the consequences of the alleged threat.

"My client is very, very sobered by the amount of attention this has received," Brennan said after Smith's initial appearance in federal court in Philadelphia. "He's not very happy about it."

Passengers weren't very happy about the scare that rerouted US Airways Flight 1267 on Thursday morning. They were about 90 miles into their trip when the aircraft turned around.

After landing at Philadelphia International Airport, heavily armed law enforcement officers boarded the plane and removed Shell. During questioning, he told authorities of the romantic feud, which involved hostile text messages with his ex and encounters with Smith, according to a federal affidavit.

Shell also gave officers the name of Smith's workplace. Upon arrival, authorities said Smith acknowledged calling airport police from a payphone to say that Shell was carrying liquid explosives.

Smith said he did it to "avenge" his new girlfriend, because Shell had posted a compromising picture of her on Facebook, the affidavit said.

"It is the kind of photo that would incense a boyfriend," said Brennan, Smith's lawyer.

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