(PHILADELPHIA) — “It was like Seal Team Six. The SWAT Team from Philly, they were pretty awesome,” said Kurt Weber, a passenger on the Dallas-bound US Air flight that returned to Philadelphia Thursday because of a bomb hoax.
Weber, who was sitting in seat 4-D, got a front-row seat in the quick, surgical end to the bomb scare.
“We got on to the plane, it was a flight like every other flight I have taken, completely uneventful. And frankly, I took a nap. Before we taxied off the runway, I was asleep,” Weber told ABC News.
“At some point, the pilot came over the intercom and told us he was having trouble with instruments and needed to return to Philly to evaluate the instruments,” Weber said.
“At that point I was awake and I stayed awake,” Weber said, “And as we landed there were a whole lot of emergency vehicles and police vehicles racing out and the girl next to me, said, ‘I’m sure glad we are not going where those guys are going.’ And then we wind up taxiing over to them.”
“No one close to me had any inclination there was a threat,” Weber, 54, said. Weber is a consultant for the Archery Trade Association and was on his way to a trade show when the drama occurred.
“These guys entered from the rear of the plane. Next thing I know it almost sounded like a stampede. Here are four Philadelphia SWAT guys, all in black with laser sights on their weapons, weapons drawn and focused on this guy.
“I can only imagine what SEAL Team Six was like. I wasn’t in the military, but these guys were methodical and in seconds they had him in cuffs and on the ground,” Weber said.
The targeted passenger, Christopher Shell, was taken into custody.
“Then the bomb techs got on the plane and the SWAT team took positions throughout the plane and authorities explained clearly to the passengers what had happened that led to the raid.”
Weber said, “The pilot was calm, the flight attendants were calm and helpful.”
“If you were to take a bad experience and try to paint it in as good a light as you could, these guys did it. And I have to give the passengers some credit. There was not a passenger on the plane who did not provide a full measure of cooperation. No one complained. No one got in the way,” he said.
“I want to give these (SWAT) guys kudos. They really did a hell of a job,” Weber said. “It turned out to be a hoax, but nobody knows that.”
Shell was later cleared of any involvement in the threat and he had no explosives, authorities said. An ex-girlfriend of Shell and a man who is her current boyfriend are now in custody, police said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
David Shortell, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News