Off-duty pilot pleads not guilty to 83 counts of attempted murder

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By VT

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A near-fatal incident aboard an Alaska Airlines flight from Washington to San Francisco has led to Joseph Emerson, an off-duty pilot, being charged with 83 counts of attempted murder.

Emerson, dressed in a blue prison jumpsuit and a pink t-shirt, appeared in court after allegedly trying to shut off the plane's engines while high on magic mushrooms.

The 44-year-old pilot did not address the court directly but communicated with his attorney from behind a glass partition, per BBC News. Through his lawyer, Emerson pleaded not guilty to all charges. Along with the state charges, Emerson faces federal charges for interfering with flight crew members.

According to testimonies, Emerson uttered, "I'm not okay," before making an attempt to pull two red fire handles that would deactivate the plane's engines. Later, he justified his actions to officials, saying, "Yeah… I pulled both emergency shut off handles because I thought I was dreaming and I just wanna wake up."

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The incident unfolded on an Alaska Airlines flight. Credit: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Disturbing details from a federal affidavit indicate that Emerson had fallen into a depressive state approximately six months before the incident. He admitted this was his first experience with magic mushrooms.

After a brief struggle inside the cockpit with the plane's pilots, Emerson exited. The ordeal led the plane to make an emergency landing in Oregon, where Emerson was subsequently arrested.

Emerson's interaction with the two on-duty pilots took a sinister turn when he threw his headset across the cockpit after mentioning he'd been an Alaska Airlines employee for a decade. He then reached for two critical red levers - the plane's fire suppression system.

"If the T-handle is fully deployed, a valve in the wing closes to shut off fuel to the engine. In this case, the quick reaction of our crew to reset the T-handles ensured engine power was not lost," stated Alaska Airlines.

Following this incident, the flight diverted its route to Portland. Emerson, after exiting the cockpit, was seen walking towards the back of the plane. He reportedly told a flight attendant, "You need to cuff me right now or it's going to be bad."

The attendants then restrained him. Emerson then shockingly tried to open the plane's emergency exit, which was promptly prevented by a quick-thinking attendant.

Other remarks attributed to Emerson include, "I messed everything up," and "he tried to kill everybody." He later shared with the police that he believed he was experiencing a "nervous breakdown" and hadn’t slept for 40 hours. He also confessed to consuming psychedelic mushrooms for the first time.

The captain's communication with ground control painted a vivid picture: "We've got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit. He doesn't sound like he's causing any issue in the back right now, and I think he's subdued. We want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground."

The plane carried 80 passengers, including children, and four crew members. In a statement, Alaska Airlines reported a "credible security threat" due to Emerson and confirmed his attempt to disrupt the engines. The airline assured that all passengers completed their journey safely with a new crew and aircraft.

Featured image credit: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/Getty

Off-duty pilot pleads not guilty to 83 counts of attempted murder

vt-author-image

By VT

Article saved!Article saved!

A near-fatal incident aboard an Alaska Airlines flight from Washington to San Francisco has led to Joseph Emerson, an off-duty pilot, being charged with 83 counts of attempted murder.

Emerson, dressed in a blue prison jumpsuit and a pink t-shirt, appeared in court after allegedly trying to shut off the plane's engines while high on magic mushrooms.

The 44-year-old pilot did not address the court directly but communicated with his attorney from behind a glass partition, per BBC News. Through his lawyer, Emerson pleaded not guilty to all charges. Along with the state charges, Emerson faces federal charges for interfering with flight crew members.

According to testimonies, Emerson uttered, "I'm not okay," before making an attempt to pull two red fire handles that would deactivate the plane's engines. Later, he justified his actions to officials, saying, "Yeah… I pulled both emergency shut off handles because I thought I was dreaming and I just wanna wake up."

size-full wp-image-1263233969
The incident unfolded on an Alaska Airlines flight. Credit: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Disturbing details from a federal affidavit indicate that Emerson had fallen into a depressive state approximately six months before the incident. He admitted this was his first experience with magic mushrooms.

After a brief struggle inside the cockpit with the plane's pilots, Emerson exited. The ordeal led the plane to make an emergency landing in Oregon, where Emerson was subsequently arrested.

Emerson's interaction with the two on-duty pilots took a sinister turn when he threw his headset across the cockpit after mentioning he'd been an Alaska Airlines employee for a decade. He then reached for two critical red levers - the plane's fire suppression system.

"If the T-handle is fully deployed, a valve in the wing closes to shut off fuel to the engine. In this case, the quick reaction of our crew to reset the T-handles ensured engine power was not lost," stated Alaska Airlines.

Following this incident, the flight diverted its route to Portland. Emerson, after exiting the cockpit, was seen walking towards the back of the plane. He reportedly told a flight attendant, "You need to cuff me right now or it's going to be bad."

The attendants then restrained him. Emerson then shockingly tried to open the plane's emergency exit, which was promptly prevented by a quick-thinking attendant.

Other remarks attributed to Emerson include, "I messed everything up," and "he tried to kill everybody." He later shared with the police that he believed he was experiencing a "nervous breakdown" and hadn’t slept for 40 hours. He also confessed to consuming psychedelic mushrooms for the first time.

The captain's communication with ground control painted a vivid picture: "We've got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit. He doesn't sound like he's causing any issue in the back right now, and I think he's subdued. We want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground."

The plane carried 80 passengers, including children, and four crew members. In a statement, Alaska Airlines reported a "credible security threat" due to Emerson and confirmed his attempt to disrupt the engines. The airline assured that all passengers completed their journey safely with a new crew and aircraft.

Featured image credit: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/Getty