TUPELO, Miss. — Officials in Mississippi evacuated a Walmart on Saturday morning after a pilot circled a store in Tupelo and threatened to crash into the store, authorities said.
According to the Tupelo Police Department, the department was notified about 5 a.m. CDT via a 911 call that a pilot of a small airplane was flying over Tupelo, WHBQ-TV reported.
Update 11:05 a.m. EDT Sept. 3: Records show the plane was last registered to Southeast Aviation, a company in Oxford, Mississippi, according to The Washington Post. On Aug. 26, the aircraft made a round-trip flight from Tupelo to Garden City Regional Airport in southwestern Kansas, the newspaper reported, citing airport records.
Update 10:44 a.m. EDT Sept. 3: As of 10:32 a.m. CDT, the plane was circling northwest of Ripley, which is north of Tupelo, WTVA-TV reported. It was also sighted circling near the Holly Springs National Forest, according to FlightRadar24.com.
“Local, state and federal authorities are continuing to monitor this dangerous situation,” the Tupelo Police Department said in a statement.
Original report: Videos posted on social media in the area showed a low-flying plane circling a neighborhood, The Washington Post reported. On Twitter, multiple witnesses claimed to have seen the plane flying low overhead. One said it was “flying in circles,” WTVA reported.
The pilot has continued to circle over the store, police said.
Members of the police department have been speaking directly with the pilot, according to WJTV.
“Negotiations are still in progress,” a representative for Lee County’s 911 emergency response team told the television station.
“TPD was notified that a pilot of an airplane (possibly King Air type) was flying over Tupelo,” the Tupelo Police Department said in a statement. “The pilot has made contact with E911 and is threatening to intentionally crash into Walmart on West Main.
“TPD has worked with Wal-Mart West and Dodges on West Main to evacuate the stores and disperse people as much as practical. TPD also has been able to begin talking with the pilot directly.”
A King Air is a two-propeller plane, approximately 35 to 40 feet long, that typically can carry seven to 12 passengers, the Post reported.
“Citizens are asked to avoid that area until an all clear is given,” police added. “With the mobility of an airplane of that type the danger zone is much larger than even Tupelo.”
“State law enforcement and emergency managers are closely tracking this dangerous situation,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted. “All citizens should be on alert and aware of updates from the Tupelo Police Department.”
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