Joseph David Emerson, an off-duty airline pilot, is now facing 83 counts of attempted murder after allegedly attempting to shut off the engines of an Alaska Airlines plane mid-flight. The incident occurred on a flight scheduled from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco on Sunday, October 22.
Emerson’s arrest, confirmed by the Port of Portland (Ore.), followed his alleged attempt to disable the plane’s engines by pulling on the handles of the on-board fire extinguishers. The flight was promptly diverted to Portland, where Emerson was subdued by the flight crew, handcuffed to a seat, and the aircraft landed safely without injuries.
In addition to the 83 counts of attempted murder, Emerson is charged with 83 counts of misdemeanor reckless endangerment and one felony count of endangering an aircraft. Currently in custody, Emerson’s ironic destination was San Francisco, where he was originally scheduled to pilot a flight later.
Alaska Airlines acknowledged the incident in a statement, noting that Emerson “unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines.” The legal proceedings will now unfold as authorities address the serious charges against the off-duty pilot.