Pilot threatening to crash stolen plane into Walmart store in US city charged

PTI, September 4, 2022, 11:11 a.m. IST

Image: Screenshot from Twitter video/@CityKing_Gank_

A man, who hovered for hours over a plane flown over the U.S. city of Tupelo and threatened to crash into a Walmart store, has been charged with robbery and threatening terrorism, police said on Saturday.

The Tupelo Police Department said it was notified around 5 a.m. Saturday that a pilot flying a “King Air type” aircraft — a small utility plane — was planning to crash into a Walmart on the West Main Street.

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office later confirmed the plane landed in a field in Ashland, about 60 miles northeast of Tupelo in the US state of Mississippi.

The man landed the plane safely after interviews with police.

Mississippi Governor Reeves announced on Twitter that “the situation has been resolved and no one has been injured.” “The plane over North MS is down. Thankfully the situation was resolved and no one was injured. Special thanks to local, state and federal law enforcement who handled this situation with a extreme professionalism,” Reeves said in a tweet.

The pilot, identified as Cory Patterson, was taken into custody, authorities said.

Patterson did not have a pilot’s license, Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka told a news conference, adding that the plane stolen was a Beechcraft King Air 90.

Patterson was charged with grand larceny and terrorist threats, Jackson TV station WAPT said, citing Quaka.

Additional charges are possible as part of a federal investigation.

“The pilot did not have the experience to land the plane,” the police chief said. According to Quaka, Patterson was an Air Force lineman from Tupelo for 10 years, supplying aircraft tanks and had some flying experience. Officers brought in a pilot to communicate with Patterson about how to land the plane at the Tupelo airport.

Around 9:30 a.m., Patterson posted a message on Facebook “and in essence said goodbye,” according to Quaka.

“I believe after the initial threat, he didn’t want to hurt himself or anyone else. And I believe we had what you would think was the best-case scenario,” Tupelo Mayor Todd Jordan said. , during the press conference.

The nine-seater plane began circling over Tupelo when the pilot made contact with 911, issuing the threat, according to CNN.

He was in the air for more than five hours, which police described as a “dangerous situation”. The Walmart and another nearby store were evacuated earlier, while citizens were told to avoid the area. An online flight tracking service showed the plane snaking through the sky for several hours and following a looping path.

Details of the conversation between the pilot and the police while in the air were not immediately made public.