The pilot of a hijacked plane flying over Mississippi is threatening to intentionally crash into a Walmart, police said.

Photograph: Douglas Sacha/Getty Images
Photograph: Douglas Sacha/Getty Images© Provided by The Guardian

Authorities said the unfolding drama began at 5am local time Saturday. The Tupelo police department (TPD) issued a statement saying it had been “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 Walmart on West Main.”

“TPD has worked with Walmart 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,” the statement added, according to WTVA.

Authorities asked citizens to avoid the 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,” they warned.

A snapshot from Flightaware showed a plane flying abstract patterns above the city. Video posted on Twitter allegedly showed the plane flying in circles over homes and businesses.

The Mississippi governor, Tate Reeves, said in a statement: “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.”