The pilot who threatened to crash a plane into a Mississippi Walmart allegedly posted an eerie message on social media before allegedly stealing the plane.
The pilot, identified by officials as Cory Wayne Patterson, had threatened to crash a Beechcraft King Air C90 twin-engine aircraft into a Walmart in Tupelo, a town of about 38,000 in northeastern Mississippi. He ended up landing the plane about 50 miles north of Tupelo where the Benton County Sheriff’s Department took him into custody.
“Sorry everyone,” Patterson allegedly wrote to his family on Facebook. “Never actually wanted to hurt anyone. I love my parents and sister this isn’t your fault. Goodbye.”
Patterson, who is a student pilot, will be facing charges for grand larceny and making terrorist threats, according to local law enforcement officials. Patterson could also face federal charges as well.
“The plane over North MS is down,” Governor Tate Reeves (R) said in a statement. “Thankful the situation has been resolved and that no one was injured. Thank you most of all to local, state, and federal law enforcement who managed this situation with extreme professionalism.”
Per @AP : The small plane threatening to crash in #Tupelo, Mississippi has landed and no one has been hurt. The person inside the plane is in custody.
Throughout the morning, law enforcement has been scrambling to resolve the situation as the plane kept circling the area. pic.twitter.com/nFY4vuKoKR
— Shane Battis TV (@ShaneBattisTV) September 3, 2022
Patterson’s arrest follows the Tupelo Police Department’s announcement Saturday morning that they were “notified that a pilot of an airplane (possibly King Air type) was flying over Tupelo. The pilot has made contact with E911 and is threatening to intentionally crash into Wal Mart on West Main.”
After the call came in, the police worked to evacuate the area, and negotiators were brought in to speak with Patterson. Police said that family members were also brought into communication with Patterson.
A woman who told CNN she saw the plane go down in a field said that it appeared to have crashed “pretty hard.”
“We did see the suspect with his hands up and we saw police detain him without any incident,” Roxanne Ward said. “Police were there immediately, which led me to believe that they were following him.”
Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka said that Patterson, who worked for a contractor working at airports, took the plane as part of a “crime of opportunity.”
Chelsea Fleming Jolly, who Fox News said is a close friend of Patterson, posted about Patterson on Facebook following the ordeal.
“He’s a human being. A good human being too. He made a huge mistake today, and it saddens me that the rest of the world won’t ever get to know him the way that I do.” Jolly wrote. “He could have ended it all today, freeing himself from all the hurtful and ugly things that are going to be said about him but instead, he chose life and a chance at forgiveness. You, too, have a decision to make, you can either pray for him or you can be the reason that people feel [like] they have no hope.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free hotline for individuals in crisis or distress or for those looking to help someone else. It is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
Leif Le Mahieu contributed to this report.