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Mid-air emergency: off-duty pilot who tried to shut off plane’s engines arrested, charged with attempted murder

Off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot reportedly tried to shut down plane’s engines from cockpit

The FBI has confirmed it is investigating a scary mid-air incident on a Horizon Air flight from Everett, Washington to San Francisco, California. The airplane was diverted to Portland, Oregon on Sunday after a “credible security threat” when an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot sitting in the flight deck jump seat attempted to shut off the plane’s engines.

“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. The crew secured the aircraft without incident,” Alaska Airlines said in a statement to Fox News Digital Monday.

According to the Seattle Times, the man ultimately charged had been sat in the jumper seat on the flight deck just behind the captain and first officer flying the Embraer E-175 regional jet, as is custom for airline employees to hitch a free ride back to their home base if a seat is available and sometimes chat with the pilot and flight crew during their ride.

“Following appropriate FAA procedures and guidance from air traffic control, the flight safely diverted to Portland International Airport. The event is being investigated by law enforcement authorities,” the airline added. “All passengers on board were able to travel on a later flight. 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.”

“One man is under arrest on state charges in Oregon, booked by the Port of Portland Police Department, after an incident in the air on Horizon Air flight 2059 from Everett, WA to San Francisco, CA,” the FBI’s Portland’s Field Office said in a statement obtained by Fox News Digital. “The airplane’s pilot was able to safely land the plane at Portland International Airport around 6:25pm on Sunday, October 22. No injuries were reported. The FBI is investigating and can assure the traveling public there is no continuing threat related to this incident.”

Online jail records show Joseph David Emerson, 44, was arrested by the Port of Portland and booked into Multnomah County Jail shortly after 4 .am. Monday on 167 counts, including 83 counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of endangering an aircraft.

According to a memo seen by Fox News Digital, American Airlines pilots were warned Monday to “maintain vigilance and heightened situational awareness.”