PHILADELPHIA — A man angry about a compromising Facebook photo of his girlfriend took revenge against the ex-boyfriend who posted it, making a hoax call to police that set off a terrorism scare and got the former beau taken off an airliner at gunpoint, authorities said.
Kenneth W. Smith Jr. was arrested Friday on charges of making a false threat to Philadelphia police, who recalled a Dallas-bound flight and marched the ex-beau, Christopher Shell, off the plane 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.
Smith’s lawyer, Bill Brennan, said his client is “embarrassed” by the consequences of the alleged threat.
The scare rerouted US Airways Flight 1267 on Thursday morning. Passengers were about 90 miles into their trip when the aircraft turned around.
After landing at Philadelphia International Airport, 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. Authorities visited Smith, and he 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 states. “It is the kind of photo that would incense a boyfriend,” Brennan said.
Smith, 26, of Philadelphia was charged with conveying false information that interfered with aviation and using an instrument of commerce — the phone — to do so. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and possible restitution.