Authorities say a plane that was circling over northern Mississippi and whose pilot had threatened to crash it into a Walmart store landed safely on Saturday.
Gov. Tate Reeves announced on Twitter that the “situation has been resolved and that no one was injured.” He thanked law enforcement agencies that helped in bringing the aircraft down. The plane started circling over Tupelo, Mississippi, about 5 a.m. and was in the air for more than five hours.
Benton County Sheriff Dispatcher Connie Strickland said the plane landed and the subject was in law enforcement custody. The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane landed in a field several miles northwest of Ripley Airport in Ripley, Mississippi.
Earlier, the Tupelo Police Department said in a Facebook post that the Walmart and a nearby convenience store had been evacuated after the plane started circling over Tupelo, Mississippi, about 5 a.m. It was still in the air more than five hours later, but had flown away from Tupelo and was circling over another community nearby.
CBS affiliate WCBI-TV posted video of the plane flying over the area.
Authorities believe the aircraft – a Beechcraft King Air C90A – was stolen. Multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, were involved in the investigation and are working to discern a motive.
Joe Wheeler, of the Tupelo Regional Airport Authority, said the pilot was not an employee of the airport.
A spokesperson for the FAA said the agency was coordinating with local law enforcement.
Law enforcement told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal shortly after 8 a.m. that the plane had left the airspace around Tupelo and was flying near a Toyota manufacturing plant in nearby Blue Springs.
An online flight tracking service showed the plane meandering in the sky for several hours and following a looping path.
Leslie Criss, a magazine editor who lives in Tupelo, woke up early and was watching the situation on TV and social media. Several of her friends were outside watching the plane circle overhead.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in this town,” Criss told The Associated Press. “It’s a scary way to wake up on a Saturday morning.” (CBS)