NBC News reports the pilot, who has been identified as Cory Wayne Patterson, 29, hijacked the plane from the Tupelo Regional Airport around 5:30 a.m. Patterson, who police believe is not a “licensed pilot,” is an employee of the Tupelo Airport.
Shortly after taking off, Patterson called Lee County 911 from the aircraft and said he planned on crashing the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air 90 into the West Main Walmart in Tupelo. The store was subsequently “closed and evacuated,” Charles Crowson, director of the Walmart Press Office, told CNN.
“The pilot did not have experience to land the aircraft,” Tupelo police Chief John Quaka said. “A private pilot assisted us in helping this pilot complete this, however, it was not completed. Upon final approach, the pilot aborted the landing and traveled in a northwest direction away from Tupelo toward Union, Tippah and Benton County.”
Patterson has been arrested and charged with grand larceny and making terroristic threats. Quaka told reporters he expects the federal government will proceed with federal charges. The FAA says it is investigating the incident.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves took to Twitter on Saturday to issue a statement about the incident. “The plane over North MS is down,” he wrote. “Thankful the situation has been resolved and that no one was injured. Thank you most of all to local, state, and federal law enforcement who managed this situation with extreme professionalism.”
The plane over North MS is down. Thankful the situation has been resolved and that no one was injured. Thank you most of all to local, state, and federal law enforcement who managed this situation with extreme professionalism.
— Governor Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) September 3, 2022
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