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Man stole plane, threatened to crash it into Mississippi Walmart – now faces criminal charges

Beech C90 King Air. (Pedro Aragão/Wikimedia Commons)

A man who stole a plane and threatened to crash it into a Walmart in north Mississippi Saturday morning faces charges of grand larceny and terroristic threats, authorities said.

Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka said during a press conference Saturday afternoon that Cory Wayne Patterson stole a Beechcraft King Air C90A from Tupelo Regional Airport, took off, and then called 911 threatening to crash the aircraft.

After circling over northern Mississippi for hours, he landed in a field in Benton County and was taken into custody.

Negotiators were able to convince him to not go through with the crash threat and to land the aircraft, Quaka said. Patterson didn’t have the experience to land the plane, so another pilot managed to coach him, and the aircraft landed safely.

Despite having had some flight instruction, Patterson didn’t have a pilot’s license, authorities said. He worked at Tupelo Aviation fueling aircraft, which gave him access to the plane.

Around 9:30 a.m., Patterson shared on his Facebook page a message intended to serve as a farewell note, according to Quaka.

“Sorry everyone. Never actually wanted to hurt anyone. I love my parents and sister this isn’t your fault. Goodbye,” the post read. The account has since been deactivated.

Local authorities were notified that an airplane was flying over Tupelo around 5 a.m. local time. They made contact with the pilot, who was “threatening to intentionally crash into [the Walmart] on West Main.” The Walmart and a nearby convenience store were evacuated.

Leslie Criss, a magazine editor who lives in Tupelo, said that she was watching the plane circling overhead.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in this town,” she said. “It’s a scary way to wake up on a Saturday morning.”

In an update about four hours later, police said that the plane was still in the air, but flying “north of Tupelo in the Benton, Union County Area.”

Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted late Saturday morning that he was “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.”

The Department of Homeland Security also became involved in the investigation.

Tupelo Mayor Todd Jordan said he hopes Patterson “will get the help he needs.”

©2022 New York Daily News.

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