An off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot was charged with 83 counts of attempted murder for allegedly trying to shut down a plane’s engines midflight on Sunday.
Joseph David Emerson, 44, was riding in the jump seat of Alaska Airlines flight 2059 from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco and was subdued after attempting the shutdown, the company said.
In addition to the felony attempted murder counts, Emerson also received 83 counts of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, and one felony count of endangering an aircraft.
An Alaska spokesperson said there were 80 passengers and 4 crew members aboard the flight.
A pilot told air traffic control that a man was subdued after trying to cut the plane’s engines and requested law enforcement when the plane landed at Portland, according to audio uploaded on LiveATC.net, which shares recordings of air-traffic-control radio transmissions.
“I’ll just give you a heads-up. We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit,” the pilot said. “It doesn’t seem like he’s causing any issue at the back. I think he’s subdued.”
After arrival, Emerson was arrested by the Port of Portland Police Department and was booked at 4:11am PT on Monday.
A jump seat, where Emerson was sitting, is an extra seat in a cockpit that’s often used to transport off-duty pilots and airline staff who aren’t flying the plane.
Alaska Airlines said in a statement on Monday that the flight, which was operated by its subsidiary Horizon Air, diverted to Portland International Airport after the incident.
“The Horizon Captain and First Officer quickly responded, engine power was not lost and the crew secured the aircraft without incident,” the company said, adding that all passengers on board were able to travel on a later flight.
The FBI’s office in Portland said it’s investigating the incident, while the Federal Aviation Administration said that it’s assisting with investigations.