US charges man who threatened to crash plane into Walmart

Sep 15, 2022, 1:08 PM | Updated: 1:15 pm
A stolen airplane rests in a field of soybeans after crash-landing near Ripley, Miss., on Saturday,...

A stolen airplane rests in a field of soybeans after crash-landing near Ripley, Miss., on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. Authorities say a man who stole a plane and flew it over Mississippi after threatening to crash it into a Walmart store faces charges of grand larceny and terroristic threats. Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka said Cory Wayne Patterson didn't have a pilot's license but had some flight instruction and was an employee of Tupelo Aviation.(AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)

(AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — An airport worker who flew a stolen airplane erratically over north Mississippi and threatened to crash into a Walmart is now facing federal charges on top of state ones.

Cory Wayne Patterson, 29, of Shannon, Mississippi, was arrested Wednesday on federal charges of destruction of an aircraft and threats involving destruction of aircraft, court records show. Conviction on the first charge would carry up to 20 years in prison and the second would carry up to five years.

Before dawn Sept. 3, Patterson took a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air C90A from the airport in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he had a job fueling airplanes, police said. He circled for five hours over unnerved Mississippians before ending the flight safely in a soybean field near Ripley, Mississippi, where police arrested him.

Patterson made a brief appearance Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders in Oxford. Patterson’s attorney, Tony Farese, requested a psychological examination for his client.

Patterson remains in custody. He was arrested after he landed the plane and was jailed on state charges of grand larceny and making terrorist threats.

Federal court records include a hand-written note from Patterson that an FBI agent testified he found in the plane. Patterson wrote that he was sick of living.

“I picked Walmart because it would be quick and easy to evacuate. I am not interested in hurting anyone,” the note said.

Patterson also wrote that Walmart is owned by billionaires who pay workers low wages and that the insurance would cover any losses to the company.

During Patterson’s flight, he called 911 and said he intended to crash the plane into a Walmart in Tupelo. He urged the emergency operator to get the store evacuated, according to court records.

Police negotiators convinced Patterson to land, but he didn’t know how. He was coached by a private pilot into nearly landing at the Tupelo airport but he aborted the attempt at the last minute and resumed the flight, authorities said.

Patterson landed the plane near Ripley, Mississippi, about 85 miles (140 kilometers) southeast of Memphis, Tennessee, and about 45 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Tupelo.

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US charges man who threatened to crash plane into Walmart