Hoax Victim Arrested Upon Arrival in N. Texas

Man arrested on warrant for drugs, missed court date

A man originally from North Texas was first a suspect Thursday, then a victim and may soon be an inmate.

Christopher Shell, the man suspected of smuggling an explosive onto a US Airways plane Thursday morning, was arrested after his eventual arrival in North Texas later that day on outstanding drug charges and for missing a court appearance.

He has since posted bond and been released.

Early Thursday morning, Shell boarded a flight from Philadelphia to Dallas-Fort Worth, where he was returning home to celebrate his 29th birthday.

Just a few minutes into the flight, the plane had turned around and landed at Philadelphia International Airport -- where they had departed only a half hour or so before.

Soon, agents with guns surrounded Shell and removed him from the plane.

"He was obviously very alarmed, as I would be if heavily armed police officers entered a plane to take me off," said Joe Sullivan, Philadelphia police chief inspector. "He was certainly stunned."

Investigators quickly determined Shell had been the victim of a hoax, posed no threat to the flight and released him.

Shell then decided to return to North Texas. When his flight eventually arrived, he was placed in handcuffs and arrested on outstanding warrants out of McKinney. Court records show he apparently missed a court appearance last January for charge of possessing less than 2 oz of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia.

Shortly before 10 a.m. Friday, Shell was turned over to Collin County officials.  He was later released after posting bond of $3,175.50.

Meanwhile, the FBI questioned Shell's ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend in connection with the hoax.  The woman was released, but the boyfriend, identified as 26-year-old Kenneth W. Smith, Jr., has been arrested and charged with conveying false and misleading information.  

According to NBC News, Smith said he placed the call from a pay phone to avenge his girlfriend after Shell posted a compromising photograph of her on Facebook.  Shell told authorities Smith may have placed the phony call after recent hostile texts were exchanged between himself and his ex about her new boyfriend.

Smith was in federal court Friday afternoon.  His appearance lasted only 10 minutes, during which his bail was set at $250,000 with one of the conditions being he have no contact with Shell.  If convicted, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and possible restitution.

NBC 5's Kendra Lyn and Ken Kalthoff contributed to this report.

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