Alaska Airlines Pilot Charged With 83 Counts Of Attempted Murder After Trying To Shut Down Engines In Mid-Air
An off-duty pilot with Alaska Airlines has been hit with 83 counts of attempted murder after he tried to shut off the engines mid-air while riding in the cockpit jump seat during a packed flight on Sunday.
Alaska Airlines flight AS2059 to San Francisco lands safely after a jumpseat passenger tried to shut down both of the engines. pic.twitter.com/bMHequskAO
— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@aviationbrk) October 23, 2023
Off-Duty Pilot Tries To Shut Off Engines Mid-Flight
Daily Mail reported that on top of the homicide charges, Joseph David Emerson, 44, has been hit with an additional 83 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of endangering an aircraft, according to police documents.
Emerson was reportedly sitting in the jump seat behind the operating pilot on board a Embraer 175 plane that was flying from Everett in suburban Seattle to San Francisco on Sunday. During this flight, he allegedly tried to deploy the fire suppression system before crew members were able to “subdue” him.
“When pulled, a valve in the wing closes to shut off fuel to the engine,” an Alaska Airlines spokesperson explained to The New York Post. “After they are pulled, some residual fuel remains in the line, and the quick reaction of our crew to reset the handles restored fuel flow and prevented fuel starvation.”
“We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit and he doesn’t sound like he’s causing any issue in the back right now, I think he’s subdued,” a pilot told air traffic controllers in audio that was recorded by Live ATC. “We want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked.”
The flight then diverted to Portland International Airport in Oregon.
#AlaskaAirlines Flight 2059, operated by #HorizonAir, diverted due to an off-duty pilot’s attempt to disrupt engine operation. The crew secured the aircraft and landed safely in Portland. Pilot Joseph David Emerson, in custody and charged with multiple attempted murder counts. pic.twitter.com/u4rafYqLmg
— Eli Zusman (@muki46) October 24, 2023
“On Oct. 22, Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 operated by Horizon Air from Everett, WA (PAE) to San Francisco, CA (SFO) reported a credible security threat related to an authorized occupant in the flight deck jump seat,” Alaska Airlines said in a statement.
“The crew secured the aircraft without incident,” the statement added. “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.”
Passenger Aubrey Gavello said that passengers were only told that there had been a medical emergency in the cockpit.
“The flight attendant got back on the speaker and said, plain and simple, ‘He had a mental breakdown. We needed to get him off the plane immediately,’” Gavello said.
Off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot, Joseph David Emerson, charged with 83 counts of attempted murder for allegedly trying to shut down jet engines mid-flight. The flight crew managed to subdue him and Emerson was arrested upon landing. pic.twitter.com/38Gs6VelkB
— confused (@coinssglobal) October 23, 2023
Police are still investigating why Emerson did this, but sources close to the probe say that his actions were likely not because of any kind of ideology. The Federal Aviation Administration sent out a statement to U.S. carriers saying that Emerson’s actions were “not connected in any way shape or form to current world events,” according to The BBC.
“They are going to unpack this person’s life,” said former FBI intelligence officer Joshua Skule. “They are going to go through his social media, all of his computers, his phones.”
At the time of this writing, Emerson remains in custody at the Multnomah County Detention Center in Portland.
“Investigation on this matter is still active and is being coordinated between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies,” the district attorney’s office said.
The Portland office of the FBI added that it is investigating the incident and “can assure the traveling public there is no continuing threat related to this incident.”
— JLR© (@JLRINVESTIGATES) October 23, 2023
Emerson’s Personal Life
The Mail reported that Emerson lives in Pleasant Hill, California with his wife and two young sons.
“It is just really shocking, disturbing news,” said his neighbor Karen Yee. “They are excellent neighbors. He is a fantastic father. He plays with the kids all the time. He’s very friendly. He’s just a great guy.”
“He’s very understanding of other people. We have a son with special needs, and he’s very good to him. We just couldn’t imagine him doing anything to hurt someone,” she added as she became emotional. “It’s very hard for us to believe that he would do anything intentionally like that. I can’t fathom him doing anything that would hurt anyone.”
Find out more about Emerson in the video below.
Emerson is set to be arraigned this afternoon. We will update you further as this story develops.
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