The pilot of a small airplane circling over a Mississippi city on Saturday morning has threatened to crash the aircraft into a Walmart store, police said.
The Tupelo Police Department said in a Facebook post that the Walmart and a nearby convenience store had been evacuated. The plane started circling about 5 a.m. local time and was still in the air more than three hours later.
Police said they have made contact with the pilot directly.
“Citizens are asked to avoid that area until an all clear is given,” the police wrote. “With the mobility of an airplane of that type the danger zone is much larger than even Tupelo.”
Law enforcement said shortly after 8 a.m. that the plane had left the airspace around Tupelo and was flying near a Toyota manufacturing plant in nearby Blue Springs.
“State law enforcement and emergency managers are closely tracking this dangerous situation,” Gov. Tate Reeves wrote on Twitter. “All citizens should be on alert and aware of updates from the Tupelo Police Department.”
Leslie Criss, a magazine editor who lives in Tupelo, woke up early and was watching the situation on TV and social media. Several of her friends were outside watching the plane circle overhead.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in this town,” Criss told The Associated Press. “It’s a scary way to wake up on a Saturday morning.”