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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot Joseph Emerson charged with attempted murder after trying to shut down engines midflight

An Alaska Airlines flight made an emergency diversion to Portland, Oregon, Sunday after an off-duty pilot in the cockpit unsuccessfully tried to shut down the plane’s engines midlfight, according to officials and a source who confirmed details to CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave. A suspect, identified as Joseph Emerson, was taken into custody by police and charged with attempted murder after the plane landed safely at Portland’s airport, officials confirmed to CBS News.

According to online jail records from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Emerson, 44, is facing multiple charges including 83 counts of attempted murder.

An air traffic control recording during the incident captured the pilot saying, “We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit.”

Emerson was arrested on state charges. The FBI said it was also investigating the incident.

“There is no continuing threat related to this incident,” the FBI’s field office in Portland said in the statement.

On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration sent guidance to U.S. air carriers that the incident was “not connected in any way shape or form to current world events.”

The incident happened onboard Alaska Airlines Flight 2059, which was operated by Horizon Air, Alaska Airlines said in a statement. The flight was heading from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco with 80 passengers and four crew members onboard, including Emerson.

The airline said an off-duty Alaska pilot, later identified by officials as Emerson, was traveling in the jump seat in the cockpit and unsuccessfully tried to “disrupt the operation of the engines.”

The Horizon captain and first officer detained Emerson and landed the plane just before 6:30 p.m. in Portland, where Emerson was taken into custody without incident, according to the airport.

“He doesn’t sound like he’s causing any issue in the back right now, and I think he’s subdued,” the pilot on the air traffic control recording said. “Other than that, yeah, we want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked.”

No injuries were reported, the FBI said.

All the passengers traveled on a later flight, Alaska Airlines said.

“We are grateful for the professional handling of the situation by the Horizon flight crew and appreciate our guests’ calm and patience throughout this event,” the airline said.

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