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Pilot lands after threatening to crash into Mississippi Walmart, officials say

(NEXSTAR) – The pilot of a plane circling in the skies over Mississippi on Saturday morning —  and who reportedly threatened to crash it into a Walmart in Tupelo — has landed the aircraft in Ashland.

The pilot is also alive, Nexstar’s WREG reported.

The pilot, who was believed to be operating a Beechcraft plane, had been flying over Tupelo as early as 5 a.m. CT, according to calls made to the Tupelo Police Department. A witness who shared video to Twitter said the aircraft had been “flying in circles” over the city.

The pilot was talking with police directly, police said. (Mary Ellen Rogers via Storyful)

The pilot subsequently contacted police, informing them of intentions to crash into the Walmart on West Main Street, authorities said. The TPD was talking to the pilot directly, the two parties engaging in “negotiations,” a representative for Lee County’s 9-1-1 emergency response team told Nexstar.

The Walmart, located on West Main Street, was evacuated, as were the surrounding stores.

Police also asked the public to avoid the area near the Walmart entirely.

“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 TPD wrote on Facebook.

In a statement provided to Nexstar, Walmart confirmed the evacuation of the Tupelo location, as well as the company’s cooperation in the investigation.

The pilot later flew north of Tupelo, over Benton and Union City counties, the Tupelo police department said.

“Local, State and Federal Authorities are continuing to monitor this dangerous situation,” the department wrote.

By approximately 10:30, the plane had landed in a field in Ashland, Mississippi. There were no injuries, according to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.

The pilot was also in custody, a member of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office told Axios.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.




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