Apparent "love triangle" fueled Philly airport hoax
Law enforcement officials work around a US Airways flight at Philadelphia International Airport after the plane returned to the airport Sept. 6, 2012, in Philadelphia. / AP Photo
Updated at 2:58 p.m. ET
(CBS/AP) PHILADELPHIA - A man was released Friday after being charged with making a hoax threat that led authorities to recall a Texas-bound plane in midair and force an unwitting passenger off the plane at gunpoint.
A federal judge in Philadelphia agreed to release 26-year-old Kenneth W. Smith Jr. on personal recognizance.
The midair explosives scare was apparently the result of a love triangle, according to an affidavit that accompanied the charges filed against Smith.
Smith called police at the Philadelphia airport Thursday morning to report that a passenger heading to Texas was carrying a liquid explosive, authorities said.
Officials then recalled US Airways Flight 1267 which was about 90 miles away to Philadelphia, where the plane was surrounded by law enforcement and passenger Christopher Shell was taken off at gunpoint. Authorities later said he did nothing wrong.
Sources told CBS News that the new boyfriend of Shell's ex-girlfriend had made it all up, CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports. Reportedly, he had threatened to make Shell's life miserable.
When police had Shell face down on the tarmac, he told them, "I know what this is about," Axelrod reports. Then, he produced texts and voicemails to prove it was all over a twisted lovers triangle.
During questioning, Shell told authorities of a feud involving him, his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend "Kenny." Shell had recently traded "hostile messages" on his cellphone with his ex-girlfriend about the situation, according to the affidavit.
Shell gave officers the name of Smith's workplace, where he was questioned. Authorities said Smith admitted he made the call from a payphone to "avenge" the ex-girlfriend, because Shell had posted a compromising picture of her on Facebook.
Smith, of Philadelphia, was charged with conveying false information that interfered with aviation and using an instrument of commerce the phone to do so. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and possible restitution.
Authorities had stressed on Thursday that Shell was blameless for the scare. He continued his travel late Thursday to Texas, where he planned to celebrate his 29th birthday with friends and family, but authorities arrested him when he arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Texas authorities said Shell had outstanding warrants for two drug-possession charges less than 2 ounces of marijuana and less than 28 grams of a controlled substance. He was jailed Friday morning on $3,000 bond in Collin County near Dallas.
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