A flight from El Paso to Chicago was delayed for several hours last Friday after passengers received an encrypted message. The plane returned to its gate just before takeoff so officials could investigate the plane for a bomb, officials said. The threat came in the form of an AirDrop message visible only to those who owned an Apple device. Something is loading.
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Passengers on a plane traveling from El Paso, Texas, to Chicago were delayed for hours after many of them received the same threatening message just before takeoff.
Last Friday, on American Airlines Flight 2051, which had 125 passengers on board, those with Apple devices received an AirDrop notification, local news reported. The cryptic message read, “I have a bombshell, I’d like to share a photo,” according to a Texas Department of Public Safety press release obtained by NBC affiliate KTSM.
The flight was due to take off at noon and had drifted away from the gate, but after the threat was received the plane was grounded while a bomb squad searched the plane, its passengers and their luggage.
The investigation – led by the West Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force – found no explosives on board, officials said. Four hours after its scheduled takeoff, the flight was cleared to proceed to O’Hare International Airport.
According to the KTSM report, investigators said the suspect, who is a minor, later confessed to sending the threat, “deemed not credible” by officials. The suspect’s name and age have not been released, but officials have confirmed the teenager was a Pennsylvania high school student returning from a mission trip near the Texas-Mexico border, the Dallas reported. MorningNews.
Investigators had seized the suspect’s mobile phone and found evidence to support the confession before arresting the individual.
The El Paso County District Attorney’s Office said it will prosecute the state felony suspect for false alarm or reporting. If found guilty, the student faces up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Apple’s AirDrop feature allows users to share photos, files, and links with other Apple devices within 30 feet of each other. In January, a flight from Israel to Turkey was delayed two hours after passengers received footage of plane crashes via AirDrop, Insider’s Stephanie Stacey reported.