Officials in Mississippi warned residents to be on alert after a pilot threatened to intentionally crash into a Walmart in Tupelo on Saturday morning and continued to fly above and around the city.
The Tupelo Police Department said on Facebook that the Walmart and other nearby stores were being evacuated and that the police had been talking directly with the pilot, who was not publicly identified.
“Citizens are asked to avoid that area until an all-clear is given,” the police said. “With the mobility of an airplane of that type, the danger zone is much larger than even Tupelo.”
At 8:30 a.m., the police said the plane was north of Tupelo. Officials said the local, state and federal authorities were “continuing to monitor this dangerous situation.”
The police said that they were contacted about the pilot around 5 a.m. and that the pilot was flying a “possibly King Air-type” plane.
Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi said citizens should be on alert and be aware of updates from the police.
On the flight-tracking website, FlightAware, a twin turboprop Beechcraft King Air plane appeared on Saturday morning to be flying erratically over Tupelo, then about 40 miles northwest in Benton and Union Counties in Mississippi.
The plane flew between 900 and 2,000 feet elevation, turning in circles and veering in different directions, according to the website.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was aware of the flight and coordinating with local law enforcement.
In August 2018, an airline worker took off in a turboprop passenger plane in an unauthorized flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington. The worker, a ground service agent named Richard B. Russell, died after the plane crashed into an island on Puget Sound, about 30 miles from the airport.