Apparent hoax victim arrested upon arrival at D/FW Airport

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on September 6, 2012 at 8:40 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 6 at 11:08 PM

D/FW AIRPORT - Christopher N. Shell, 29, was arrested by D/FW Airport Police on Thursday night in Terminal E as he arrived on a 6:10 p.m. US Airways flight from Philadelphia, said David Magana, airport spokesman.

Shell faces more than one warrant from more than one municipality, Magana added, but he would not reveal what the warrants are for or which agencies issued them.

They’ll be included on the police report to be released on Friday, Magana said.

This was Shell's second flight of the day. Early Thursday morning, he boarded another US Airways flight in Philadelphia, but a half hour into the ride, the FBI summoned the jet back.

A man called Philadelphia's 911 center, using a fake name and address, and told the operator that Shell was on that early morning US Airways flight bound for D/FW and carrying liquid explosives.

The pilot returned to the Philadelphia airport, but didn't tell passengers why.

"I'm not going to lie," Shell posted on Facebook. "I'm pretty disappointed in US Airways currently. We just spent a half hour in the air to be notified that the plane, "has technical difficulties" and had to fly back!"

Minutes later, Shell discovered he was the reason why the flight got diverted, as police pulled him off the jet at gunpoint.

Philadelphia Police Chief Joseph Sullivan said investigators eventually discovered Shell was a victim of a "pretty nasty trick."

Within hours, the FBI had Shell's ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend in custody and questioned them about the bomb threat hoax.

"Worst case, they're facing up to ten years in prison," said Paul Coggins, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

Coggins said if the couple is charged, they could each face up to a decade in prison for making a bomb threat hoax to mass transit and possibly conspiracy, as well.

"A prosecutor has a huge amount of discretion here, running all the way from no charges to federal felonies - each carrying a five year statute," Coggins added.

Shell, originally from Tarrant County, is currently living in Philadelphia and working as an electricity salesman.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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