Pilot who threatened to crash plane into Walmart in Mississippi identified, charged

TUPELO, Miss. — Officials in Mississippi evacuated a Walmart on Saturday morning after a pilot circled a store in Tupelo and threatened to crash a stolen plane into the store, authorities said. The pilot was taken into custody after landing the aircraft shortly before noon.

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According to the Tupelo Police Department, the department was notified about 5 a.m. CDT via a 911 call that a pilot of a small airplane was flying over Tupelo, WHBQ-TV reported.

Update 1:43 p.m. EDT Sept. 3: Cory Patterson, the man accused of threatening to crash a plane into a Walmart in Tupelo, Mississippi, works for Tupelo Aviation at the Tupelo Regional Airport, WTVA reported. Quaka said that Patterson had access to planes.

Negotiators made contact with Patterson and convinced him to land at an airport, according to the television station. However, Patterson told officials he did not know how to land the aircraft.

Tupelo police Chief John Quaka said another pilot spoke with Patterson and attempted to help him land, but the man aborted the landing about 100 feet from the ground and traveled northwest of Tupelo, WTVA reported.

He landed in a remote field several hours later, according to the television station.

Update 1:22 p.m. EDT Sept 3: The Tupelo Police Department identified the pilot as Cory Patterson, of Shannon. The man did not have a pilot’s license, Tupelo police Chief John Quaka said during a news conference.

Quaka said that Patterson was being charged with grand larceny and making terroristic threats.

Authorities said that while Patterson did not have a pilot’s license, he did have basic aircraft training. Quaka said the stolen plane was a Beechcraft King Air 90.

Update 12:40 p.m. EDT Sept. 3: The pilot was in the custody of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office after landing, according to The Washington Post. The pilot, whose name was not immediately released, did not appear to be injured and did not resist when deputies took him into custody, Connie Strickland, a sheriff’s dispatcher, told the newspaper.

Update 11:55 a.m. EDT Sept. 3: According to the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the pilot landed the stolen plane in a field southeast of Ashland and is alive, WHBQ-TV reported. According to The Associated Press, the pilot was taken into custody.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced on Twitter that the “situation has been resolved and that no one was injured.” He thanked law enforcement agencies that helped in bringing the aircraft down. The plane started circling over Tupelo, Mississippi, about 5 a.m. and was in the air for more than four hours.

Update 11:52 a.m. EDT Sept. 3: The plane landed safely in a field southeast of Ashland at about 11:41 a.n. EDT, WTVA reported.

Update 11:05 a.m. EDT Sept. 3: Records show the plane was last registered to Southeast Aviation, a company in Oxford, Mississippi, according to The Washington Post. On Aug. 26, the aircraft made a round-trip flight from Tupelo to Garden City Regional Airport in southwestern Kansas, the newspaper reported, citing airport records.

Update 10:44 a.m. EDT Sept. 3: As of 10:32 a.m. CDT, the plane was circling northwest of Ripley, which is north of Tupelo, WTVA-TV reported. It was also sighted circling near the Holly Springs National Forest, according to

“Local, state and federal authorities are continuing to monitor this dangerous situation,” the Tupelo Police Department said in a statement.

Original report: Videos posted on social media in the area showed a low-flying plane circling a neighborhood, The Washington Post reported. On Twitter, multiple witnesses claimed to have seen the plane flying low overhead. One said it was “flying in circles,” WTVA reported.

The pilot has continued to circle over the store, police said.

Members of the police department have been speaking directly with the pilot, according to WJTV.

“Negotiations are still in progress,” a representative for Lee County’s 911 emergency response team told the television station.

TPD was notified that a pilot of an airplane (possibly King Air type) was flying over Tupelo,” the Tupelo Police Department said in a statement. “The pilot has made contact with E911 and is threatening to intentionally crash into Walmart on West Main.

“TPD has worked with Wal-Mart West and Dodges on West Main to evacuate the stores and disperse people as much as practical. TPD also has been able to begin talking with the pilot directly.”

A King Air is a two-propeller plane, approximately 35 to 40 feet long, that typically can carry seven to 12 passengers, the Post reported.

“Citizens are asked to avoid that area until an all clear is given,” police added. “With the mobility of an airplane of that type the danger zone is much larger than even Tupelo.”

“State law enforcement and emergency managers are closely tracking this dangerous situation,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted. “All citizens should be on alert and aware of updates from the Tupelo Police Department.”

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