Off-Duty Pilot Charged With 83 Counts of Attempted Murder

State prosecutors in Oregon have filed 83 counts of attempted murder against Alaska Airlines pilot Joseph David Emerson for trying to cut the engines midflight on a Horizon Air flight from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco, Claire Rush and Gene Johnson report for the Associated Press.

As an off-duty pilot Emerson was authorized to ride in the cockpit’s jump seat and made casual conversation with the captain and first officer before trying to activate the plane’s fire suppression system and cut off fuel to its engines. After being stopped and restrained, he later tried to grab the handle of an emergency exit before a flight attendant stopped him. Emerson told Port of Portland police following his arrest that he had been struggling with depression, that a friend had recently died and that he had taken psychedelic mushrooms about 48 hours before he attempted to cut the engines. He also said he had not slept in more than 40 hours. Federal prosecutors charged Emerson with interfering with a flight crew, which can carry up to 20 years in prison.

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