JACKSON, Miss –
Authorities say a man who stole a plane and flew it over Mississippi after he threatened to crash it into a Walmart store is facing charges of robbery and terrorism threats.
Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka told a news conference that Cory Wayne Patterson does not have a pilot’s license, but has taken flying lessons and is an employee. of Tupelo Aviation. Authorities said Patterson stole the plane, took off and then called 911.
Quaka said Patterson could also face federal charges. No one was injured during the accident.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.
A plane flew over northern Mississippi on Saturday morning, causing panic on the ground as the pilot threatened to crash into a Walmart. Hours later, the plane landed safely in a field and police arrested the pilot.
Governor Tate Reeves announced on Twitter shortly after 10:30 a.m. that the “situation was resolved and no one was injured”. He thanked law enforcement who helped bring the plane down.
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the plane landed northwest of Ripley, Mississippi, with only the pilot on board. Benton County Sheriff’s Dispatcher Connie Strickland also said the plane landed and the subject was taken into custody.
Ripley is about 85 miles (137 kilometers) southeast of Memphis, Tennessee, and about 45 miles (72 kilometers) northwest of Tupelo, Mississippi, where the flight departed.
The plane began flying over Tupelo around 5 a.m., the Tupelo Police Department said. Officers evacuated a Walmart and convenience store in Tupelo because the pilot threatened to intentionally crash into the Walmart.
The plane flew over Tupelo for more than three hours before heading to more rural areas. People came out and looked up at the sky, some of them taking photos or videos on their cellphones.
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 of a local airport, the agency said. ‘Associated Press informed two people about it. Several federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, have been involved in the investigation and are working to discern a motive.
An online flight tracking service showed the plane snaking through the sky for several hours and following a looping path.
Leslie Criss, a magazine editor who lives in Tupelo, woke up early and watched the situation on TV and social media. Several of his friends were outside watching the plane circle overhead.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in this town,” Criss told The Associated Press. “It’s a scary way to wake up on a Saturday morning.”
Former state representative Steve Holland, a funeral director in Tupelo, said he received calls from families concerned about the plane.
“One of them called and said, ‘Oh my God, do we have to cancel my mom’s funeral? ‘” Holland said. “I just told them, ‘No, life will go on.’
The plane drama unfolded as tens of thousands of college football fans headed north from the Mississippi for Saturday football games at the University of Mississippi in Oxford and Mississippi State University in Starkville. Tupelo is between these two cities.
Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in New York contributed to this report.