Pilot Threatens to Crash Plane in Tupelo, Mississippi, Walmart

The pilot of a small plane circled irregularly around Tupelo, Mississippi for hours Saturday morning, threatening to crash a Walmart store — before leaving the area, authorities feared.

The bizarre incident began to unfold around 5 a.m. and details are scarce, but police did say the pilot had called 911 and was in contact with them.

Authorities cleared buildings on West Main Street in Tupelo as the twin-engine turboprop made loop after loop in the sky above, but police warned the situation could get bad soon.

“Citizens are being asked to avoid that area until everything is clear. With the mobility of an aircraft of that type, the danger zone is much greater than even Tupelo,” the police said in a statement.

At about 9 a.m., the plane left Tupelo airspace and traveled northwest toward Pine Grove, where it circled again.

Data from FlightAware indicated that the plane in question is a Beechcraft King Air 90 turboprop owned by a local urologist, although there were reports that it was stolen from Tupelo airport. The Tupelo Daily journal reported that the pilot was believed to be an airport employee, although the suspect’s complaint is unclear.

“The state’s law enforcement and emergency managers are closely monitoring this dangerous situation,” said government leader Tate Reeves in a statement. “All citizens should be alert and aware of updates from the Tupelo Police Department.”

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