A Mississippi airport staffer who stole a plane and threatened to dive bomb into a Walmart store in September died in federal prison while awaiting trial, authorities said Wednesday.
Cory Patterson, 29, was discovered unresponsive by guards at a federal prison in Miami Monday, the US Bureau of Prisons said.
“Responding staff immediately initiated life-saving measures,” the bureau said in a statement. “Staff requested emergency medical services … and life-saving efforts continued.”
However, they were unable to save Patterson and he was pronounced dead — four days after he arrived at the Miami prison. The Bureau of Prisons didn’t provide a cause of death but said no other inmates or staff were injured.
Patterson was transferred from a state prison in Mississippi — where he had been held on state charges of grand larceny and making terrorist threats since September — to the federal facility on Thursday.
The Shannon, Mississippi, man commandeered a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air C90A from the Tupelo airport, where he worked fueling planes, just before dawn on Sept. 3, police said.
The rouge pilot terrorized residents of northern Mississippi for hours as he flew in circles before threatening to crash into a Walmart.
Patterson had posted what appeared to be a suicide note on Facebook ahead of his joyride.
“Sorry, everyone. Never actually wanted to hurt anyone,” he wrote. “I love my parents and sister this isn’t your fault. Goodbye.”
However, the Mississippi man landed the plane safely in a soybean field near Ripley, Mississippi, and was arrested as he stepped out of the aircraft.
An FBI agent said he found a handwritten note in the plane apparently from Patterson, according to court records.
He said he was sick of living and had no intention of hurting anyone.
“I picked Walmart because it would be quick and easy to evacuate,” Patterson wrote, adding that the chain was owned by billionaires who pay their workers’ low wages.
He had warned emergency responders of his intention to crash into the Walmart in Tupelo during his flight and urged the 911 operator to ensure the store was evacuated.
Police negotiators spoke to Patterson while he was driving the plane and convinced him to land the plane safely, with the help of a private pilot who coached him on how to land.
He had also been slapped with federal charges of destruction of an aircraft and threats involving the destruction of an aircraft, court records show. If convicted, he could have faced up to 20 years on the first charge.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.
With Post wires