SEATAC, Wash. (AP) —   The man who stole an empty Horizon Air turboprop plane from Sea-Tac International Airport was Richard Russell, a U.S. official briefed on the matter told The Associated Press.

WDAY reports Russell attended VCSU for three semesters, and  in 2008, and was a Red Shirted football player.


(WDAY TV Saturday evening reported that Russell  may have had ties to VCSU, as a one time athlete there.)

WDAY has since learned  Russell, committed to playing football for Valley City State University.

Archives on the college’s website show Russell was recruited to play in 2008, but WDAY is still working to confirm if he actually played on the team.

Authorities on Saturday said Russell used a machine called a pushback tractor to first maneuver the aircraft so he could board and then take off Friday evening. He was presumably killed about an hour later when the aircraft crashed into a small island southwest of Seattle.

Russell could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he is “just a broken guy.” An air traffic controller called the man “Rich,” and tried to convince the man to land the airplane.

Russell went by “Beebo” on social media, and on his Facebook page, which had limited public access. He said he was from Wasilla, Alaska, and lived in Sumner, Washington, and was married in 2012.

In a humorous YouTube video he posted last year, he talked about his job and included videos and photos of his various travels.

“I lift a lot of bags. Like a lot of bags. So many bags,” he said.

Russell’s family called him a faithful husband, loving son and good friend.

In a statement, the family says Richard Russell, whose nickname was “Beebo,” was warm, kind and gentle. They say says this is a complete shock.