An off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot faces 83 counts of attempted murder after he allegedly attempted to shut off a plane’s engines midflight, officials said.
“Flight 2059 took off from Everett, Washington, and was bound for San Francisco, Alaska Airlines said in a statement,” NBC News reports.
“It was operated by Alaska Airlines subsidiary Horizon Air, but was diverted due to a ‘credible security’ threat linked to a person in the cockpit’s flight deck jump seat,” the outlet added.
According to reports, the off-duty pilot tried to shut off the engines by “pulling the fire extinguisher handles” on the flight.
The flight was diverted to Portland for an emergency landing.
Breaking: A commercial flight going to San Francisco had to make an emergency landing in Portland after an off-duty pilot tried to shut down the engines. The suspect was subdued & has 167 charges pending. @DAMikeSchmidt's office is handling the case. Read:https://t.co/7Q08LFlfUv
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) October 23, 2023
NBC News provided additional details:
“The jump seat occupant unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines,” the airline said. “The Horizon Captain and First Officer quickly responded, engine power was not lost and the crew secured the aircraft without incident.”
The flight crew followed “appropriate FAA procedures and guidance from air traffic control” in landing at Portland International Airport. The flight took off just before 5:30 p.m. local time and landed about an hour later in Portland, according to FlightAware data.
Audio of the plane’s communications with air traffic control reveal an attempt to turn off the plane’s engines.
“As a heads up. We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit. It doesn’t sound like he’s got any issue in the back right now. I think he’s subdued,” the pilot of the plane told air traffic control. “Other than that we want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked.”
Joseph David Emerson 44 year old pilot tries to shut off engines on an Alaska Airlines flight. He was a passenger on the flight but in the jumper seat of the cockpit. He said “I’m not right” before lunging past the pilot & co-pilot to kill the aircraft & its passengers 😫
— ♥️🇺🇸 𝓒𝓪𝓽𝓲𝓪 🇮🇹♥️ (@CB618444) October 23, 2023
ABC News reports:
The suspect allegedly tried to pull the fire extinguisher handles on the engines, preliminary information obtained by investigators indicated, according to a federal official briefed on the probe. The suspect was overwhelmed by flight crew and subdued and then handcuffed to a seat, the federal official told ABC News.
The suspect, Joseph David Emerson, was taken into custody, the Port of Portland confirmed. Emerson is charged with 83 counts of attempted murder, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. He is also facing 83 counts of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, and one felony count of endangering an aircraft.
The suspect was en route to San Francisco, where he was scheduled to be on a flight crew of a 737, the official said.
Alaska Airlines said the off-duty pilot was sitting in the flight deck jump seat — which is in the cockpit — and “unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines.”
The captain and first officer “quickly responded,” Alaska said, adding engine power was not lost and the crew secured the aircraft without incident.
There were 80 passengers and four crew members on the flight, according to Alaska.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement to carriers that the incident is “not connected in any way shape or form to current world events.”