The pilot of a plane in Mississippi is threatening to “intentionally” crash his aircraft into a Walmart store.
A statement put out by Tupelo Police Department (TPD) says at about 5am local time (11am UK time) they were notified in an emergency 911 call that a pilot was making the threat.
The aircraft is believed to be a King Air propeller type.
AP said it had spoken to sources who revealed the aircraft is thought to be stolen and are trying to find out if the pilot is a worker at a local airport.
The Department of Homeland Security is now working with multiple other agencies to discern a motive, AP said it had been told.
Officers have been trying to clear the area and talk to the pilot, who is said to have been circling the scene in the air since, flying at low altitude.
The local newspaper the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that the plane is believed to have moved to an area near a Toyota factory in nearby Blue Springs – a situation that appears to be confirmed by images from flight tracking websites.
Police said in the statement: “On 09-03-2022 at approximately 05:00am TPD was notified that a pilot of an airplane (possibly King Air type) was flying over Tupelo. The pilot has made contact with E911 and is threatening to intentionally crash into Wal Mart 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.
“At this time the situation is ongoing with TPD and all Emergency Services in our area on alert.
“Citizens are asked to avoid that area until an all clear is given. With the mobility of an airplane of that type the danger zone is much larger than even Tupelo.”
State governor Tate Reeves said authorities were tracking the situation.
He said on Twitter: “State law enforcement and emergency managers are closely tracking this dangerous situation. All citizens should be on alert and aware of updates from the Tupelo Police Department.”