QAnon followers believe that Richard Russell’s suicide was a staged incident. Russell, 29, died on August 10 when he crashed an Alaska Airlines Horizon plane into Ketron Island, a sparsely populated island south of Seattle. Russell had stolen the plane from Sea-Tac Airport where he worked as a mechanic. The incident played out on social media and in the mainstream media as Russell attempted death-defying stunts before fatally ending the flight. Fighter jets were scrambled in an attempt to intercept Russell while air traffic controllers attempted to talk him down.
During the audio exchange between Russell and the controllers, he described himself as a “broken guy, got a few screws loose I guess. Never really knew it, until now.”
The incident attracted the attention of President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, QAnon. One user believed that Russell “flew in a Q pattern.” On the group’s Reddit thread, greatawakening, one poster wrote, “Does anyone else feel a little weird about this entire scenario? I mean, it feels like the MSM channels all had the story running with info as if it was staged.. What are y’all’s thoughts?”
One user replied saying, “I smell a rat. Who can just get in a plane this size and figure out how to fly it. Really!” Another said, “This guy is definitely either kookoo or mind controlled. Of course, he is presumed dead, no proof of his body.” While another said, “So a guy steals a plane, flies in a Q pattern and crashes and dies? This is a “cool q proof?” Wtf?”
In a post on QAnon’s private forum, a user posted a photo of a Q400 plane with a message that read, “Autists catch the message? Think missile. Do you believe in coincidences?” Another posting linked to the New York Times story on Russell’s act. The message accompanying the link was, “BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM [NEXT WEEK] Q.”
On his Facebook page, Russell was a fan of conservative icons Ben Shapiro, Dr. Ben Carson, Sean Hannity as well as the Republican Party. In a blog post, Russell had written about his goal of one day joining the military as an officer. Russell wrote, “Once I earn my Bachelors in Social Sciences I will either seek a management position where I’m at now, or possibly join the military as an officer.” Russell made no reference to QAnon on any of his social media pages.