Stolen Plane Lands Safely, Pilot in Custody after Threatening Tupelo Walmart and Circling Mississippi for Hours
Police have evacuated multiple stores in Tupelo, Mississippi after a pilot threatened to crash into a local Walmart store.
UPDATE (11:17 a.m.):
Police confirmed the identity of the man who stole the plane as Cory Wayne Patterson (29) of Shannon, MS. Patterson is an employee of Tupelo Aviation, located at the Tupelo Airport.
Patterson posted a "goodbye" message on Facebook before ultimately landing safely in a Benton County soybean field.
UPDATE (10:53 a.m.)
ABC News confirms that the pilot who stole a plane from the Tupelo airport and threatened to crash it into a local Walmart before erratically circling Mississippi for hours is now in police custody.
WTVA says that the pilot reportedly landed "safely" in a Benton County field and no injuries have been reported as of yet.
UPDATE (10:48 a.m.)
The Governor of Mississippi confirms to the Associated Press that the stolen plane that threatened to crash into a Tupelo, MS Walmart has "landed safely" hours later in a field southeast of Ashland.
UPDATE (10:43 a.m.)
Multiple outlets, including WTVA, are reporting that the plane is down and the pilot is believed to be in custody.
UPDATE (10:25 a.m.)
Video shows an aircraft landed in a field, believed to be the plane that was stolen from the Tupelo airport before flying erratically for hours.
UPDATE (10:17 a.m.):
After multiple unconfirmed posts that the stolen plane was no longer being tracked, WTVA reports that the stolen aircraft has stopped southeast of Ashland.
UPDATE (10:14 a.m.):
According to the Daily Journal, law enforcement agencies and local authorities have identified the former airport employee who stole the plane as Cory Patterson of Shannon, MS.
UPDATE (9:39 a.m.)
Local authorities are still on alert as the plane continues to fly near Ripley, MS.
UPDATE (9:10 a.m.)
The plane, believed to be stolen from the Tupelo airport between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., only holds 4 hours of fuel as authorities believe it is dangerously close to running out of gas as the pilot continues to fly near Ripley, MS.
UPDATE (8:50 a.m.)
The pilot continues to fly erratically as police say the stolen private plane has been flying for hours and could likely run out of fuel in a matter of minutes.
It is believed that the plane is moving closer toward Memphis airspace where inclement weather is also a factor. We're watching closely for any and all developments.
UPDATE (8:30 a.m.)
The pilot threatening to crash a stolen plane into a Mississippi Walmart has reportedly left the Tupelo area but continues to fly in circles near New Albany as negotiations are still ongoing.
Police have also determined that the man flying the aircraft is an employee of the Tupelo airport. The FAA is aware and coordinating with local police.
According to Tupelo Police, the pilot allegedly took the aircraft from the Tupelo Airport around 5 a.m. and has been flying in circles.
WTVA says authorities have evacuated the immediate area and are asking locals to stay clear as this plane poses a threat beyond the city of Tupelo.
At approximately 05:00 am TPD was notified that a pilot of an airplane was flying over Tupelo. The pilot has made contact with E911 and is threatening to intentionally crash into Wal Mart 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. At this time the situation is ongoing with TPD and all Emergency Services in our area on alert. 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.’
Police say they are in contact with the pilot, who is still reportedly threatening to crash the plane.
Multiple sources claim the pilot is a 29-year-old male who took the nine-seater from the airport early this morning between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m.
People are following the flight path and it seems like the pilot is now circling just outside of Tupelo as authorities continue to warn locals to evacuate the "danger zone."