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Family remembers rogue Horizon pilot as 'kind and gentle to each person he met'


SEATTLE -- The family of the man who stole a Horizon Airlines turboprop plane from Sea-Tac Airport Friday night and later crashed on Ketron Island called him a faithful husband, loving son and good friend.

Richard "Beebo" Russell, 28, died in the fiery crash after spending about an hour flying erratically over the Puget Sound area.

MORE | FBI investigating how employee could steal Horizon Air plane |Employee who stole turboprop had security clearance | Air traffic controllers tried to talk pilot down

Family spokesperson Mike Matthews read a statement to the media Saturday, calling the his death comes as a complete shock.

“A childhood friend remarked that Beebo was loved by everyone because he was kind and gentle to each person he met,” Mathews said.

His former coworkers said he was like a brother.

"He always had a smile on his face, he would joke around," said Michael West. " I literally can't think about anything bad to say about him -- he was just an all-around great guy."

But same man is the Horizon ground service agent who officials said stole a plane and put thousands of lives in danger during his harrowing flight.

He crashed in a ball of flames on Ketron Island.

His family can only lean on their faith.

“This is a complete shock to us. We are devastated by these events and Jesus is truly the only one holding this family together right now," Matthews read. "Without him we would be hopeless."

In Beebo's final moments heard over air traffic, he recognized he would be hurting those who loved him.

“I got a lot of people that care about me,” Russell is heard on the tape. “It’s gonna disappoint them that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them."

Now, family members are left wondering why....

“As the voice recording shows, Beebo’s intent was not to harm anyone and he was right in saying, there are so many people who loved him,” read Mathews.

The family also thanked the authorities, Alaska Air and the community for their prayers. They are now asking for space to mourn.

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