A Mississippi aviation employee is being charged with grand theft and making terroristic threats after he stole an airplane from Tupelo Regional Airport and threatened to crash it into a Walmart on Sunday.
Lee County Sheriff John Quaka said that the FBI is considering “four or five” more charges for Cory Patterson, 29, a lineman for Tupelo Aviation Unlimited, the airport’s fixed-base operator, the Tupelo Daily Journal reported.
A fixed-base operator leases space from an airport to provide public services to general aviation operators at a public-use airport. Patterson’s specific job was to fuel airplanes.
Currently we have a 29yr old who stole this plane & is threatening to crash it into something. Polices ,ambulances ,& fire trucks are everywhere. Everything is shutdown rn pic.twitter.com/AzebdIa3tP
— City King (@CityKing_Gank_) September 3, 2022
Police say Patterson took a 1987 Beechcraft King Air C-90 twin engine plane from the airport sometime before 5 a.m. At 5, he contacted E911 and threatened to crash into a Walmart on Main Street in Tupelo.
Law enforcement quickly went to work evacuating the big box store and a nearby convenience store and closing off roads and began contacting the pilot. At one point, Quaka said, authorities had convinced Patterson to call off his threat and land the plane at the Tupelo airport. When he said he didn’t know how to land it, police brought in a private pilot to talk him to the ground.
But Patterson aborted the landing on final approach shortly after 8 a.m. and took off away from Tupelo.
Patterson’s family members were also brought in to speak with him as he flew the plane.
Authorities tracked the plane for several more hours as it flew over a Toyota plant in Blue Springs, over Union County and into Tippah County. Just before 10:30 a.m., sources began reporting that the plane was down and that Patterson was alive. A few minutes later, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office said it had the pilot in custody. He was the only person on board the plane.
Tippah County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Josh Bateman said Patterson landed the plane in field behind Gravestown Volunteer Fire Department, about five miles west of Ripley near the Benton County line.
Quaka said not much is known yet about Patterson’s motivation. At about 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning, however, he made a Facebook post that read, “Sorry everyone. Never actually wanted to hurt anyone. I love my parents and sister this isn’t your fault. Goodbye,” the Associated Press said.
Patterson did not have a pilot’s license, Quaka said, but had some flight instruction.
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[Featured image: @CityKing_gank_]