A rogue pilot who terrorized residents of northern Mississippi for hours Saturday morning as he flew in circles threatening to crash into a Walmart safely landed the stolen plane in a field.
Shaky footage posted to Facebook showed the plane down in Ashland, Mississippi, about 60 miles northwest of Tupelo, where the Walmart he targeted is located.
“He’s got his hands up and he’s being arrested,” local resident Roxanne Ward said on the video she posted to Facebook.
He was taken into custody by the Benton County Sheriff’s Department.
“The plane over North MS is down, Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted a short time later. “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.”
Local news reports identified the pilot as Cory Patterson of Shannon, Mississippi, citing multiple law enforcement and local authorities.
On Facebook early Saturday, Patterson posted what appeared to be a suicide note that suggested he expected a more tragic ending to his flight.
“Sorry everyone. Never actually wanted to hurt anyone. I love my parents and sister this isn’t your fault. Goodbye.”
The Tupelo Police Department said the purported kamikaze flyer, who was flying a possibly stolen Beechcraft King plane, contacted them at 5 a.m. and described his alarming plans.
Police stayed in contact with the pilot as he flew back and forth across the region. Law enforcement meanwhile worked with Walmart and nearby stores to evacuate customers, and put out alerts warning the public about the danger.
Tupelo police say pilot threatens to crash plane into local Walmart
“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 urged in a statement on Facebook.
Officials said initial reports the pilot was an employee at Tupelo Regional Airport were false but that he may work for a company which leases space there, the local Daily Journal reported.
Patterson, who studied at Mississippi State University, appears to be an experienced pilot, with Facebook posts frequently showing him airborne.
One 2019 post shows an image of former President Trump arriving to the state on Air Force One.
“Secret service told us to wait in the vehicle (they were stricter on this one than they were the last time he came). But you can tell he’s the one on the front coming down the stairs cause of the red tie, and the hair!,” Patterson boasted in the post.
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