Alaska Airlines diverts jet after off-duty pilot in cockpit tries to shut down engines, police issue 83 attempted murder charges

The San Francisco-bound flight was ultimately diverted to Portland, Oregon.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
An off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot has been accused of attempted murder after he allegedly entered the cockpit of a Horizon Airlines Embraer E-175 mid-flight Sunday night and attempted to shut the engines off. 

Joseph Emerson, 44, faces 83 counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of endangering an aircraft

The San Francisco-bound flight was ultimately diverted to Portland, Oregon during the incident. Emerson was promptly arrested upon landing and then charged by deputies from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

According to The Messenger, Flight 2059 had just departed Everett, a town north of Seattle, Washington, when Emerson allegedly tried to down the plane.

Audio recorded by Live ATC revealed that the crew was able to thwart his attempts and move him away from the controls.

"We've got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit and he doesn't sound like he's causing any issue in the back right now," the actual pilot said. "I think he’s subdued."

"We want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked," he added.

The San Francisco-bound flight was ultimately diverted to Portland, Oregon. Upon landing, Emerson was promptly arrested and taken away by deputies from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

He was subsequently booked at the county jail, where he is still being held while local law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation look into the case.

How Emerson managed to enter the cockpit is still unknown, however, it is believed that he tried to deploy the plane's fire suppression system.

Horizon's parent company, Alaska Airlines, said in a statement that, the flight was diverted after the pilot "reported a credible security threat related to an authorized occupant in the flight deck jump seat."

"The crew secured the aircraft without incident," the airline continued. "We are grateful for the professional handling of the situation by the Horizon flight crew and appreciate our guests' calm and patience throughout this event."
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