Pilot of plane flying over Mississippi city threatens to crash, police say


A stolen plane flew over northern Mississippi on Saturday morning and police said they evacuated a Walmart store after the pilot threatened to crash into it.

The Tupelo Police Department said in a Facebook post that the Walmart and a nearby convenience store had been evacuated. The plane began flying over the city of Tupelo around 5 a.m. local time. It was still airborne about four hours later, but had flown out of Tupelo and was circling over another nearby community.

Police said they contacted the pilot directly.

“Citizens are asked to avoid this area until a green light is given,” police wrote. “With the mobility of an aircraft of this type, the danger zone is much larger than even Tupelo.”

Authorities believe the plane – a Beech C90A – was stolen and are working to determine if the pilot threatening to crash the plane is an employee of a local airport, The Associated Press told two people informed about it. Several federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, are now involved in the investigation and are working to discern a motive, the sources said.

Investigators were continuing to monitor the flight path and were in communication with the pilot, the sources said.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said the agency is aware of the theft and is coordinating with local law enforcement.

Law enforcement said shortly after 8 a.m. the stolen plane left the airspace around Tupelo and was flying near a Toyota manufacturing plant in nearby Blue Springs.

Follow-up of “dangerous situations”

An online flight tracking service showed a looping path for the plane.

“State law enforcement and emergency officials are closely monitoring this dangerous situation,” Governor Tate Reeves wrote on Twitter. “All citizens should be alert and aware of updates from the Tupelo Police Department.”

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. “”


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