JACKSON, Ms. An airport worker who erratically flew a stolen twin-engine plane over northern Mississippi for hours and threatened to crash into a Walmart store has died in federal prison awaiting trial, federal authorities said Wednesday.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons said in a statement that Cory Wayne Patterson, 29, was found unconscious in a Miami federal prison on Monday.
“Responding personnel immediately took life-saving measures,” the statement said. “Staff requested medical attention… and life-saving efforts continued. Mr. Patterson was subsequently declared ‘deceased’ by emergency responders.
The statement said no staff or other prisoners were injured. Patterson had arrived in jail in Miami on Thursday.
Patterson was from Shannon, Mississippi. Before dawn on Sept. 3, he took a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air C90A from the airfield in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he had a job fueling airplanes, police said. He orbited nervous Mississippians for five hours before safely ending the flight in a soybean field near Ripley, Mississippi.
Patterson was arrested after landing the plane and jailed on charges of grand larceny and making terrorist threats.
He was arrested on Sept. 14 and indicted days later on federal charges of destroying an aircraft and threatening to destroy aircraft, court records show. Conviction on the first charge would have carried up to 20 years in prison and the second up to five years.
A federal magistrate ordered a psychological evaluation for Patterson on September 16, at the request of Patterson’s attorney.
The federal court documents include a handwritten note from Patterson that an FBI agent testified that he found on the plane. Patterson wrote that he was tired of living, according to court records.
“I chose Walmart because it would be quick and easy to evacuate. I am not interested in hurting anyone,” the note read.
Patterson also wrote that Walmart is owned by billionaires who pay workers low wages and that the insurance would cover any losses to the company.
During Patterson’s flight, he called 911 and said he planned to crash the plane into a Walmart in Tupelo. He urged the aid worker to vacate the store, court records show.