Pilot Arrested After Threatening to Crash Into a Mississippi Walmart

After threatening to crash into a Walmart in Mississippi on Saturday morning an airport worker allegedly took a twin-engine plane and flew it to a nearby field where he was apprehended by police. Cory Wayne Patterson, a pilot with Tupelo Aviation for the past decade was detained on Saturday and Chief John Quaka announced during a press conference.

According to Quaka, Patterson a resident of Shannon, Mississippi 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.”

Quaka added that Patterson’s job as a lineman includes providing airplane fuel. According to the chief, the jet had plenty of fuel the night before. According to Quaka at 5:23 a.m. Patterson made a 911 call from the plane, stating that he intended to crash into the West Main Walmart in Tupelo. The shop and its environs were evacuated shortly after that. The chief also claimed that many of Tupelo’s key thoroughfares were closed.

Charles Crowson director of the Walmart Press Office told CNN earlier that while the plane was in the air, 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 added a private pilot who had been aiding police with Patterson had aborted the landing and flown off in the northwest. Quaka stated that several counties were informed of the situation.

Patterson published a status update to Facebook over four hours later. “In essence, it said goodbye. At this point, we knew he was getting close to running out of fuel,” Quaka said. Patterson reportedly verified to the chief that he had landed in a field after police lost and then regained radar contact with the plane.

Shortly after that the chief announced Patterson was arrested on charges of grand theft and terroristic threats. According to inmate records he was booked into the Lee County Detention Center on Saturday afternoon. It’s not apparent if Patterson has legal representation. Quaka stated that he believes federal charges will be filed. According to the FAA they are looking into the matter. A representative for the FBI in Jackson, Mississippi, confirmed that they assisted with the incident response.

About 10:20 a.m. Roxanne Ward, 42, said the jet landed behind the Gravestown Fire Department not far from her house. “He landed pretty hard,” she said. She filmed the small plane landing safely in a field, where it can be seen somewhat undamaged and surrounded by law authorities.

Ward claimed that she had heard the approaching plane and had hurried to her in-laws’ home where she hid in the basement until the plane passed. “That’s when we heard the thud.” After being asked by a reporter, Quaka revealed that he has spoken with the pilot’s family who are “very concerned” for Patterson’s safety.

“Thankful the situation has been resolved and that no one was injured,” Gov. Tate Reeves said in a tweet.

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