Cory Patterson was charged with grand larceny and making terroristic threats.
Patterson had worked as a lineman for Tupelo Aviation for 10 years but was not believed to be a licensed pilot. He had some flight instruction beore.
Tupelo police held a press conference later on Saturday to detail the timeline of events that took place.
Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka spoke at the press conference.
5:08 AM Cory Patterson stole a Beachcraft CoolAir c90 Twin Engine aircraft and took off from the Tupelo Airport. Chief Quaka said that Patterson’s job is to fuel the aircraft and the plane that he stole had been fully fueled the night before.
5:23 AM Patterson called Lee County 911 from the aircraft to tell them he was going to crash the aircraft into the West Main Walmart in Tupelo, Mississippi. The Tupelo Police Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Department and Tupelo Fire Department immediately evacuated that Walmart and all surrounding areas. Chief Quaka said numerous major streets were also shut down.
Negotiators with the Tupelo Police Department made contact with Patterson and were able to convince him to not carry out this deed and land the aircraft at the airport. Patterson did not have experience landing aircraft. A private pilot helped explain to Patterson how to land the plane, but at the last minute, Patterson aborted the plan and continued northwest in the plane. All of the counties in this area were contacted to warn them about Cory Patterson.
9:32 AM Patterson posted a “goodbye” on Facebook. He was getting close to running out of fuel.
10:08 AM Contact with Patterson and the aircraft was lost.
10:12 AM The Tupelo Police Department negotiator was able to re-establish contact with the pilot. Patterson confirmed that he landed in a field and was uninjured.
He landed the plane near Gravetown Fire Department in between Ashland and Ripley.
Patterson was taken into custody and charged with grand larceny and making terroristic threats. Chief Quaka said he anticipates that the federal government will also charge him in the near future.
Mayor of Tupelo, Todd Jordan said:
“He will get the help he needs as far as whatever he’s dealing with, but I can’t thank these organizations enough who brought him in safely.”