The airport worker who authorities say stole a twin-engine plane early Saturday morning and threatened to crash it into a Walmart in Mississippi was apprehended after he landed safely in a field.
Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka made the announcement at a news conference on Saturday revealing the arrested pilot to be Cory Wayne Patterson who has worked for Tupelo Aviation for the previous decade.
Quaka reported that Shannon Mississippi native Patterson stole a Beechcraft King Air C90 twin engine aircraft from Tupelo Regional Airport at 5:08 a.m. local time. “We do know Patterson has some flight instruction,” Quaka said. “We do not believe he is a licensed pilot. That is still ongoing to discover that.”
According to Quaka, Patterson’s job as a lineman includes providing fuel to airplanes. The jet according to the chief had plenty of fuel the night before. Quaka claimed that at around 5:23 a.m. Patterson made a call to Lee County 911 from the plane and stated that he intended to crash into the West Main Walmart in Tupelo.
The shop and its vicinity were evacuated shortly afterwards. In addition the chief said that many of Tupelo’s key thoroughfares were closed. Charles Crowson director of the Walmart Press Office, told CNN earlier while the plane was in the air that the Walmart store in Tupelo had been “closed and evacuated.”
According to Quaka, the pilot was called by Tupelo Police negotiators who persuaded him to land at the airport. Quaka stated that a private pilot who helped police help Patterson aborted the landing and flew off in a northwesterly direction. Quaka stated that multiple counties were informed of the situation.
Patterson posted on Facebook over four hours later. “This was a farewell message, in essence. We could tell he was almost out of gas at this moment “This is what Quaka had to say. According to the chief, Patterson admitted he had landed in a field after police lost and then regained radar contact with the plane.
The chief stated that Patterson was arrested soon afterward and charged with grand theft and terroristic threats. According to booking documents he was brought to the Lee County Detention Center on Saturday afternoon. Whether or not Patterson has legal representation is unknown.
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
Quaka stated that he expected federal charges to be brought. An FAA investigation is underway, the agency says. A representative for the FBI confirmed that agents from the Jackson, Mississippi, field office assisted with the incident response.
Roxanne Ward, 42, told sources that the plane landed near her house in Gravestown at around 10:20 in the morning. “He landed pretty hard,” she said. A video she provided with sources shows a small plane completely intact in a field surrounded by law officers.
Ward claimed that she hid in her father-in-basement law’s after hearing the approaching plane. And then we heard the thump,” he said. Quaka told the press that he has spoken with the pilot’s family, who are “very concerned” for Patterson’s safety in response to a question from the media.
The governor of Texas, Tate Reeves, tweeted his gratitude that the situation had been resolved without any injuries. “Thank you most of all to local, state and federal law enforcement who managed this situation with extreme professionalism.”
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