February 24, 2024
Mississippi police and residents spent their Saturday on high alert when a pilot spent five hours flying a stolen plane — which he threatened to crash into a Walmart shopping center.

Mississippi police and residents spent their Saturday on high alert when a pilot spent five hours flying a stolen plane — which he threatened to crash into a Walmart shopping center.

The Tupleo Police Department was alerted to the pilot’s threat at 5 a.m. on Saturday, with the plane being flown possibly being a King Air type, according to the department. Police said at around 10:23 a.m. that the pilot had landed and that the pilot, Cory Patterson, has been arrested, according to The Daily Journal.

“State law enforcement and emergency managers are closely tracking this dangerous situation,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves wrote on social media before the suspect landed the plane. “All citizens should be on alert and aware of updates from the Tupelo Police Department.”

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Patterson is from Shannon, Mississippi, and is a 2011 Tupelo High School graduate, according to the outlet. On Facebook, Patterson wrote at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Saturday a cryptic message combining an apology and a goodbye.

“Sorry everyone,” the message read. “Never actually wanted to hurt anyone. I love my parents and sister this isn’t your fault. Goodbye.”

The Tupelo Police Department will hold a press conference around noon, the outlet reported.

A communications official with the FBI’s Jackson field office told the outlet that the FBI, along with its state and local partners, is “aware of the situation,” and that it will provide more information “as we have it.”

The plane is confirmed to be a fixed wing multi-engine 1987 Beech C90A model, and is believed to have been stolen. The pilot is also confirmed by police to be an employee of the Tupleo Regional Airport, according to Fox News.

A Dodges eatery and gas station located near the Walmart has also been evacuated in order to disperse people “as much as practical,” according to police. Roads in west Tupelo and near the airport have since been reopened, according to local reporting.

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The pilot’s motive behind the threats is currently unclear; police have said they will release more information on the situation “when appropriate.”

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