Off-Duty Pilot Facing 83 Attempted Murder Charges For Trying to Shut Off Plane Engines Mid-Flight Took Psychedelic Mushrooms

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Joseph David Emerson

Joseph David Emerson, the off-duty pilot who tried to shut off the plane’s engines midflight took psychedelic mushrooms, court documents say.

As previously reported, an Alaska Airlines flight was diverted to Portland Sunday night over a “credible security threat” related to an authorized person in the cockpit.

The airline said the authorized occupant was sitting in the flight deck jump seat.

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“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. “The crew secured the aircraft without incident.”

It turns out the man who posed the security threat was an off-duty pilot.

The two pilots in the cockpit immediately jumped into action, neutralized the threat and removed the man from the cockpit.

Emerson, 44, was arrested and charged with attempted murder after he tried to shut off the airplane’s engines mid-flight.

Emerson was charged with 83 counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment (state charges), and one count of endangering an aircraft (federal charge), NBC News reported.

“The jump seat occupant unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines,” Alaska Airlines said. “The Horizon Captain and First Officer quickly responded, engine power was not lost and the crew secured the aircraft without incident.”

According to court documents, Emerson told officers he took psychedelic mushrooms and hadn’t slept for 40 hours.

Excerpt from KATU:

The off-duty pilot facing 83 attempted murder charges after he allegedly tried to shut off the engines of a plane mid-flight on Sunday night admitted to taking psychedelic mushrooms, new arrest documents claim.

In the official criminal complaint, Emerson is stated to have been sitting in the cockpit’s jumpseat when, after chatting with pilots for several minutes, suddenly said “I’m not okay,” before pulling the handles of the fire suppression system, which are used to stop engine fires and shut off fuel to the engines.

One of the pilots grabbed Emerson while the other declared an inflight emergency. He initially resisted, but records say he settled down after a roughly 30-second struggle.

The court documents state Emerson wasn’t able to fully pull down the handles and fully shut off the engines. If he had, “then it would have shut down the hydraulics and the fuel to the engines, turning the aircraft into a glider within seconds.”

Witnesses said Emerson peacefully walked to the back of the plane, and once seated in the back he reportedly told a flight attendant “you need to cuff me right now or it’s going to be bad.” They put his wrists in a pair of flex cuffs.

During a police interview, Emerson said he was having “a nervous breakdown,” and hadn’t slept for 40 hours, and felt dehydrated and tired. He admitted to pulling the handles and said he did it because “I thought I was dreaming and I just wanna wake up.”

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