Police and the FAA spent the morning monitoring the movements of a King Air whose pilot reportedly threatened to crash the plane into the Walmart in Tupelo, Mississippi. The aircraft was reportedly back on the ground near Ripley in northern Mississippi by 11:07 EDT and the pilot was in custody, according to CNN. The unidentified pilot apparently called in the threat by cellphone early on Saturday morning and as of late morning had flown to an isolated area over Holly Springs National Forest, according to FlightAware. The plane landed in a field and appeared intact in photos that were posted Saturday morning.
The plane is owned by Southeast Aviation LLC and departed Tupelo about 5 a.m. local time. The Walmart was evacuated. Tupelo police said in a news conference the pilot was a ramp attendant at Tupelo Aviation. He is reported to have had flight instruction. At one point, police negotiators and a local pilot talked the man into a landing at the airport, but he aborted the landing at the last minute and headed north and out of contact with the authorities. The pilot is facing a string of charges, including terrorism counts that could result in federal prosecution.
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