Pilot charged with 83 counts of attempted murder after he allegedly tried to shut down engines mid-flight

Credit: (Joseph Emerson/LinkedIn) via Meaww

Aviation emergencies have to be the worst possible ones without a safe route of exit. On the ground, there is negligible probability of an escape. In contrast, airplanes do not provide sufficient escape routes to cushion the blow. There are indeed protocols that are reiterated to passengers on every flight before take-off, but in the moment of danger, those directions don’t click in the heads of the endangered passengers.

Meaww reports a bone-chilling case of aviation malfunction when an off-duty pilot, Joseph Emerson, was arrested on Monday by Portland International Airport’s law enforcement agency, Port of Portland Police in Oregon and booked him at around 4 am, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. Endangering passengers and crew on Flight 2059 from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco, California, Emerson has been slapped with 83 attempted murder charges in lieu of him trying to allegedly kill off the engines of the plane, as reports by Meaww suggest.

Reportedly, the 44-year-old suspect was seated in the flight deck jump seat of the plane and was an authorized occupant of the craft’s cockpit. A statement following the incident was issued by Alaska Airlines and obtained by Meaww, which stated that the off-duty pilot “unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines.”

Portland news station KATU obtained an audio recording from the plane’s pilot, as reported by Meaww, which said, “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,” adding, “I think he’s subdued,” providing negligible substance to Emerson’s motives in the first place.


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Meaww reports on the charges filed against Emerson, stating that Oregon charged him with 83 attempted murder charges, which will have him serve a minimum sentence of 7.5 years. To top that off, Emerson also faces one count of endangering an aircraft and other charges for reckless endangerment.

Meaww reports that as Emerson remains in Multnomah County Detention Center in Portland, the FBI has taken over Emerson in accordance with the reports released by the Port of Portland Police. Alaska Airlines reports via Meaww in a statement, “On October 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.”

Adding to this, the statement reiterated, “The crew secured the aircraft without incident. Following appropriate FAA procedures and guidance from air traffic control, the flight was safely diverted to Portland International Airport. The event is being investigated by law enforcement authorities,” finally concluding it with, “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.”

As per People, Emerson told the investigative officers he had consumed psychedelic mushrooms and hadn’t slept in 40 hours. He believed the mushrooms caused him a nervous breakdown.

The court documents reviewed by People suggest that Emerson said, “I pulled both emergency shut off handles because I thought I was dreaming and I wanna wake up.”

The documents further allege that after coming out of the cockpit, Emerson told a flight attendant, “You need to cuff me right now or it’s going to be bad.”

As per reports, Emerson is still in custody.