(NewsNation) — A pilot in a plane circling over Tupelo, Mississippi, on Saturday morning — and who allegedly told police he would crash into a Walmart — landed the aircraft “intact” in a field a few hours later, according to local authorities.
Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka said at a press conference that Cory Wayne Patterson stole a Beechcraft King Air C90A from the Tupelo Regional Airport, took off early Saturday, called 911, and then threatened to crash the aircraft.
Negotiators spoke to Patterson and convinced him not to carry out the threat and to land at the airport. Patterson did not have the experience to land and another pilot attempted to coach him through it.
A negotiator re-established contact, and the plane landed safely.
Benton County Sheriff Dispatcher Connie Strickland said the suspect was in law enforcement custody, according to the Associated Press.
Patterson faces charges including grand larceny and making a terrorist threat, according to police. He did not have a pilot’s license, but did work at Tupelo Aviation and had some flight training.
An online flight tracking service showed the plane meandering in the sky before landing.
Citizens were asked to avoid the area during the incident in an abundance of caution.
In a post on social media, police said that the Walmart and a nearby convenience store had been evacuated.
Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted Saturday a thank-you to law enforcement in addition to the news that the plane was “down” and no one was injured.
“Thank you most of all to local, state, and federal law enforcement who managed this situation with extreme professionalism,” Reeves tweeted.
Multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, were involved in the investigation and are working to discern a motive.
Quaka said Patterson, on his Facebook page, posted what was in essence a goodbye message at about 9:30 a.m.
“Sorry everyone. Never wanted to actually hurt anyone. I love my parents and sister this isn’t your fault. Goodbye,” the message read.
Tupelo Mayor Todd Jordan said he hopes Patterson “will get the help he needs” and didn’t intend to hurt himself or others in the hours after the initial threat.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.