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Off-duty pilot tries to shut down engines, charged with 83 counts of attempted murder

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An off-duty pilot from Alaska Airlines faces 83 charges of attempted murder after allegedly attempting to shut down the aircraft engines during a flight, as per the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. Joseph David Emerson, 44, was arrested early Monday by the Port of Portland Police, which oversees law enforcement at the Portland International Airport.

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Emerson, who was authorized to occupy the cockpit’s jumpseat behind the active pilots, reportedly tried but failed to “disrupt the operation of the engines,” according to an Alaska Airlines statement. Apart from the attempted murder counts, Emerson is also charged with endangering an aircraft and multiple counts of reckless endangerment. Audio from Flight 2059, an Alaska Airlines journey operated by Horizon Air, captured one of the flight’s pilots discussing the incident with air traffic controllers.

Alaska Airlines expressed gratitude towards the Horizon flight crew for their professional response and confirmed the flight was diverted safely to Portland International Airport. Following the incident, all passengers were rebooked on subsequent flights. The FBI is currently spearheading the investigation.



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