The pilot who threatened to crash a small plane into a Walmart in Tupelo, Mississippi, flew from the immediate area, local authorities said Saturday.
At 8:35 a.m. local time, the plane was flying north of Tupelo in the “Benton, Union County” area, the Tupelo Police Department said in a statement. “Local, state and federal authorities continue to monitor this dangerous situation,” police said.
Police officials said they first learned of the threat around 5 a.m. local time after the pilot alerted rescuers to his intentions. The plane, which police say may be a King Air type, was flying over the northeast Mississippi area at the time.
“The pilot has made contact with the E911 and is threatening to intentionally crash into Wal Mart on West Main,” police said.
Local authorities did not share any details about the pilot’s identity or the pilot’s motive, but said they spoke directly with the airman.
Residents have been asked to avoid the area surrounding the local Walmart and Dodges convenience store until the situation is resolved.
“With the mobility of an aircraft of this type, the danger zone is much larger than even Tupelo,” the police department said.
A Walmart spokesperson told NPR that the store was evacuated and closed. The Federal Aviation Administration told NPR the agency is aware of the situation and is coordinating with local law enforcement.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves wrote on Twitter that the state police are also involved and closely monitoring the crisis.
This is a developing story and will be updated.