The pilot of a small stolen plane erratically circled around Tupelo, Mississippi, and the surrounding area for hours on Saturday morning, threatening to crash into a Walmart store at one point.
A local news outlet identified the pilot as the employee of a company based at the airport. Police had not released the suspect’s name, but a Facebook account belonging to that person contained an ominous message, apparently sent from the air.
“Sorry everyone. Never actually wanted to hurt anyone. I love my parents and sister this isn’t your fault. Goodbye,” it read. Dozens of people replied to the post, urging the person to land the twin-engine turboprop safely.
The bizarre incident began unfolding around 5 a.m. and details were scant, but police did say the pilot had called 911 and was in contact with them.
Authorities evacuated buildings on West Main Street in Tupelo as the aircraft made loop after loop in the sky above, but cops warned that the situation could go bad fast.
“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,” the police department said in an early-morning statement.
Around 9 a.m., the plane did leave Tupelo airspace and traveled northwest, where it was again seen making circles over various towns.
DailyData from FlightAware indicated the aircraft in question is a Beechcraft King Air 90 turboprop owned by a local urologist—although there were reports it was stolen from the Tupelo airport.
“State law enforcement and emergency managers are closely tracking this dangerous situation,” Gov. Tate Reeves said in a statement. “All citizens should be on alert and aware of updates from the Tupelo Police Department.”
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