UPDATE: Man who flew plane over Mississippi didn’t have pilot’s license; faces grand larceny, terrorist threats charges

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — Man who flew plane over Mississippi didn’t have pilot’s license; faces grand larceny, terrorist threats charges.


Updated Story:

Pilot in custody after flying, making threats in Mississippi

BY: Emily Wagster Pettus – Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — An airplane circled over north Mississippi for several hours Saturday, causing people to panic as the pilot threatened to crash it into a Walmart.

The plane has landed safely in a field, and police have taken the pilot into custody.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that the plane landed northwest of Ripley, Mississippi. Gov. Tate Reeves announced on Twitter that the “situation has been resolved and that no one was injured.”

The plane started circling over Tupelo about 5 a.m. and was in the air for more than five hours. An official said a suspect was in custody.

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Original Story:

Police: Plane circling Mississippi city threatens to crash

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — A stolen airplane circled over north Mississippi on Saturday morning, and police said they evacuated a Walmart store after the pilot threatened to crash into it.

The Tupelo Police Department said in a Facebook post that the Walmart and a nearby convenience store had been evacuated. The plane started circling over Tupelo, Mississippi, about 5 a.m. It was still in the air more than four hours later, but had flown away from Tupelo and was circling over another community nearby.
Police said they have made contact with the pilot directly.

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

Authorities believe the aircraft — a Beechcraft King Air C90A — was stolen and are working to determine whether the pilot threatening to crash the plane is an employee of a local airport, two people briefed on the matter told The Associated Press. Multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, are now involved in the investigation and are working to discern a motive, the people said.

Investigators were continuing to monitor the flight’s path and have been in communication with the pilot, the people said.

A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration said the agency is aware of the flight and is coordinating with local law enforcement.

Law enforcement told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal shortly after 8 a.m. that the plane had left the airspace around Tupelo and was flying near a Toyota manufacturing plant in nearby Blue Springs.

An online flight tracking service showed the plane meandering in the sky and following a looping path.

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

Leslie Criss, a magazine editor who lives in Tupelo, woke up early and was watching the situation on TV and social media. Several of her friends were outside watching the plane circle overhead.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in this town,” Criss told The Associated Press. “It’s a scary way to wake up on a Saturday morning.”

Former state Rep. Steve Holland, who is a funeral director in Tupelo, said he had received calls from families concerned about the plane.
“One called and said, ‘Oh, my God, do we need to cancel mother’s funeral?'” Holland said. “I just told them, ‘No, life’s going to go on.'”

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