The "suicidal" man, who dreamed of joining the military, then said that he had thrown up and that he felt "dizzy".
"Doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island", the Sheriff's Department said on Twitter.
On Saturday, airline and Sea-Tac representatives said Russell, who identified himself as "Rich" to air traffic controllers, was fully credentialed and had access to the cargo area where the plane was.
The man, who was called Rich by air traffic control personnel, is an Alaska Air Horizon employee who allegedly stole a Horizon Air Q400, shutting down the airport temporarily. "They probably got anti-aircraft!" Video showed flames amidst trees on the island, which is sparsely populated and only accessible by ferry.
Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor called it a "joyride gone terribly wrong".
Alaska Airlines said no structures on the ground were damaged.
Russell appears to have been a ground service agent, the paper said. He said he didn't see the crash but saw smoke.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Alaska Airlines were headed to Ketron Island on Saturday morning to gather evidence from the site where a Horizon employee crashed a stolen airplane.
The sheriff's department described the man as suicidal.
When asked about Russell's mental condition Tabb replied, "It's too early to comment on that".
The incident has also raised questions about the physical security of the planes. Ultimately, the man crash landed the hijacked Horizon Air Q400 plane after being coaxed by air traffic controllers, but audio and witness accounts paint a disturbing scene.
There were no reports of injuries on the ground, he said, except presumably the pilot.
Richard Russell took off in a stolen plane at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday night, flew for about an hour with military jets chasing him and crashed the 76-seater Horizon Air plane in a wooded island, authorities said.
The aircraft was stolen about 8pm (local time).
Later, a controller discusses getting a pilot on the radio to help Russell control the aircraft.
A plane that reportedly took off without permission has sparked a major security incident at Seattle-Tacoma worldwide airport.
"The fighters were directed to fly supersonic to expedite the intercept", according to a NORAD news release.
Russell detailed his experience flying from video games and asked for the coordinates to the killer whale shepherding her dead calf through Washington coastal waters for almost three weeks.
"I don't want to hurt no one".
Scott Adams, a battalion chief with West Pierce Fire and Rescue, said about 10:30 p.m. the crash had started a grass fire, and that two fire engines, a medic unit and a command unit were at the site, along with firefighting staff from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
"Hey, do you think if I land this successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?" he joked.
"I wouldn't want to do that".
"This is a complete shock to us", the family said in a statement Saturday night.
"I'm down to 2,100 (pounds) [952 kilos]", he says, "I don't know what the burnage is like on takeoff, but it burned quite a bit faster than I expected".
"I'm not quite ready to bring it down just yet", the pilot says.
"I don't know man", Rich said.
"I've got a lot of people that care about me". It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. "Never really knew it, until now", he added.
He crashed almost an hour after the plane was taken from a maintenance area, though officials said that it did not appear that the fighter jets were involved in the crash of the aircraft.
Wasilla wrestling coach Shawn Hayes said Russell was respectful and a good kid.
"We're lucky it went down on a very unpopulated island", Eckrote said.
Read: 'Keep the plane right over the water. "Keep the aircraft nice and low".