Mississippi pilot facing charges for terrorist threats, after threatening to crash into Tupelo Walmart

TUPELO, Miss — Authorities say a man who stole a plane and flew it over Mississippi after threatening to crash it into a Walmart store faces grand larceny and terrorism charges.

Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka said at a news conference that Cory Wayne Patterson does not have a pilot’s license but has flight instruction and is an employee of Tupelo Aviation.

Authorities said Patterson stole the plane, took off, and then threatened to call 911.

Quaka said Patterson could also face federal lawsuits. Nobody was injured in the incident.

A plane circled over northern Mississippi on Saturday morning, sparking panic on the ground when the pilot threatened to crash into a Walmart. Hours later, the plane landed safely in a field and police took the pilot into custody.

gov. Tate Reeves announced on Twitter just after 10:30 a.m. that “the situation has been resolved and no one was injured”. He thanked the law enforcement agencies who helped crash the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that the plane landed with only the pilot on board northwest of Ripley, Mississippi. Benton County Sheriff Dispatcher Connie Strickland also said the plane landed and the person was taken into custody.

Ripley is approximately 85 miles (137 kilometers) southeast of Memphis, Tennessee, and approximately 45 miles (72 kilometers) northwest of Tupelo, Mississippi, where the flight originated.

The plane began circling over Tupelo around 5 a.m., the Tupelo Police Department said. Officials evacuated a Walmart and a supermarket in Tupelo because the pilot threatened to crash into the Walmart on purpose.

The plane flew over Tupelo for more than three hours before flying to more rural areas. People went outside and looked up at the sky, some of them taking photos or cell phone videos.

Authorities believe the plane — a Beechcraft King Air C90A — was stolen and are working to determine if the pilot who threatened to crash the plane is an employee at a local airport, two people who have information on the matter, told The Associated Press. Several federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, were involved in the investigation and are working to identify a motive.

An online flight tracking service showed the plane meandering and looping in the sky for several hours.

Leslie Criss, a magazine editor who lives in Tupelo, woke up early and observed the situation on TV and social media. Some of her friends stood outside and watched as the plane circled overhead.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in this city,” Criss told the Associated Press. “It’s a scary way to wake up on a Saturday morning.”

Former State Assemblyman Steve Holland, a funeral director in Tupelo, said he’s had calls from families concerned about the plane.

“One called and said, ‘Oh my god, do we have to cancel the mother’s funeral?'” Holland said. “I just said to them, ‘No, life goes on.'”

The plane drama unfolded as tens of thousands of college football fans flew to northern Mississippi for football games at the University of Mississippi in Oxford and Mississippi State University in Starkville. Tupelo lies between these two cities.

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Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in New York and Kathleen Foody in Chicago contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

https://6abc.com/stolen-plane-mississippi-crash-threat-tupelo/12193554/ Mississippi pilot facing charges for terrorist threats, after threatening to crash into Tupelo Walmart

Alley Einstein

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