A man has been arrested after stealing a twin-engine plane and threatening to crash it into a Mississippi Walmart stor, before eventually landing in a field.
In a news conference Saturday, Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka identified the arrested pilot as airport worker Cory Wayne Patterson, an employee with Tupelo Aviation for the past 10 years.
Quaka said that Patterson stole a Beechcraft King Air C90 twin engine aircraft and took off 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.”
Patterson called Lee County 911 from the aircraft at around 5:23am and said he was going to crash the plane into the West Main Walmart in Tupelo, Quaka said. The store and surrounding areas were evacuated and a number major streets in Tupelo were shut down as a result of Patterson’s threat.
Police negotiators believed they had convinced Patterson to land the plane at Tupelo airport, but upon final approach the pilot aborted the landing and traveled northwest.
More than four hours later, Patterson posted to his Facebook account. “In essence, it said goodbye. At this point, we knew he was getting close to running out of fuel,” Quaka said.
After police lost and then re-established radar contact with the plane, Patterson confirmed he had landed in a field, where he was apprehended and taken into custody, charged with grand larceny and making terroristic threats.
Quaka said he anticipated the federal government will proceed with federal charges.