TUPELO, Mississippi (WJW/AP) – A Walmart in Mississippi was evacuated early Saturday morning after a pilot threatened to “intentionally” crash into the store. And now that man is facing charges of grand larceny and terroristic threats, authorities said.
“Thank you most of all to local, state, and federal law enforcement who managed this situation with extreme professionalism,” the Governor said in a tweet.
According to the Tupelo Police Department, they became aware of the situation at about 5 a.m. on Saturday and said the pilot had made contact with 911 dispatchers.
Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka said at a press conference that Cory Wayne Patterson stole a Beechcraft King Air C90A from the Tupelo Regional Airport, took off early Saturday, called 911 and then threated to crash the aircraft. Patterson didn’t have a pilot’s license but had some flight instruction and worked at Tupelo Aviation fueling aircraft, which gave him access to planes.
Negotiators spoke to Patterson and convinced him not carry out the threat and to land at the airport. Patterson did not have the experience to land and another pilot attempted to coach him through it.
A negotiator re-established contact, and the plane landed safely.
Tupelo Mayor Todd Jordan said he hopes Patterson “will get the help he needs” and didn’t intend to hurt himself or others in the hours after the initial threat. Quaka said Patterson, on his Facebook page, posted what was in essence a goodbye message at about 9:30 a.m.
“Sorry everyone. Never wanted to actually hurt anyone. I love my parents and sister this isn’t your fault. Goodbye,” the message read.
Video posted on social media showed the low-flying plane. One poster said the pilot “circled over” their work place several times.