Police: Rogue plane lands, pilot in custody after threatening to hit Mississippi Walmart
A pilot of a small airplane over Tupelo, Mississippi, is in custody after threatening to crash into a nearby Walmart on Saturday, police confirmed to Axios.
The latest: "The plane is down and it has landed. The subject is in custody," an official with the Benton County Sheriff's Office told Axios.
- WTVA reported that the plane landed in a field and they do not believe the pilot crashed.
- Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said the plane is "down" and there were no injuries.
- The suspect has been identified as Cory Patterson of Shannon, law enforcement confirmed to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.
Driving the news: The plane began circling the city at about 5am, the Tupelo Police Department said in a Facebook post. Police were able to speak with the pilot as he flew.
- The plane circled over several communities in northeast Mississippi, WTVA reports.
- CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean said the plane was also spotted flying over Holly Springs National Forest, which covers a wide swath of northeast and north central Mississippi, including near the area where the plane is believed to have landed.
Details: Police said the pilot originally threatened to “intentionally crash into Walmart on West Main,” the police said.
- The Walmart store is located near a series of other businesses, including a convenience store and car wash.
- Walmart shoppers and staff were evacuated and people have moved away from the area, TPD said.
Context: Police said the plane may be a King Air type, which can hold seven to 12 passengers, the Washington Post reports.
- Muntean of CNN said on air that the type of plane has a four- to six-hour window before running out of gas.
- The TPD, the Tupelo airport and the Mississippi Department of Safety did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comments.
What they're saying: “State law enforcement and emergency managers are closely tracking this dangerous situation," Reeves said on Twitter. “All citizens should be on alert and aware of updates from the Tupelo Police Department.”
What we're watching: Discussions between the pilot and TPD began early Saturday.
- "Citizens are asked to avoid that area until an all clear is given. With the mobility of an airplane of that type the danger zone is much larger than even Tupelo," TPD said.