Meet Joseph Emerson, the pilot from Pleasant Hill, California, whose recent actions have left his tight-knit neighborhood in shock. Joseph David Emerson, a 44-year-old FAA licensed pilot, now faces a daunting 167 charges after allegedly attempting to tamper with the engines of a plane bound for San Francisco while he was off-duty and in the cockpit.
In the peaceful community of Pleasant Hill, Emerson is known not as a menacing figure but rather as a positive and friendly presence, described by his neighbors as a devoted father of two. Nestled on a quiet street, his one-story home exudes a playful Halloween spirit with ghost, tombstone, and skeleton decorations adorning the front yard.
Karen Yee, one of Emerson’s neighbors, shared her astonishment with KRON4, explaining how Emerson’s children often played at her house. She remarked, “We still can’t believe it. We are still shocked. It doesn’t sound like Joe at all. I don’t know what happened to him mentally that he would do something like that.” Yee mentioned that Emerson had recently received new training that had sparked his excitement.
While Emerson’s family has been advised by attorneys to refrain from speaking to the media, family members and friends gathered at their home on Monday night to support one another and collect some items.
Emerson’s ill-fated incident unfolded on Horizon Air Flight 2059 as he occupied the cockpit’s jump seat. He made an unsuccessful attempt to disrupt the operation of the engines, prompting Alaska Airlines to reveal the shocking details of his alleged intent to harm the 83 passengers aboard the flight.
The flight was en route from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco International Airport when the off-duty pilot’s actions led to an in-flight disturbance. The captain, co-pilot, and crew of the Horizon Air passenger jet acted swiftly to ensure the safety of the flight, ultimately subduing Emerson. Live audio captured by LiveATC.com captured one of the pilots saying, “We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit. I think he’s subdued. We want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground.”
The aircraft made an emergency landing at Portland International Airport, where Emerson was taken into custody by Port of Portland police officers.
Alaska Airlines expressed their gratitude for the professionalism and quick response of the Horizon flight crew and the patience of the passengers throughout this unsettling event. Horizon Air, a regional carrier owned by Alaska Airlines, undoubtedly faced a challenging situation.
Joseph Emerson is presently held in custody at the Multnomah County Detention Center in Portland with no option for bail, as indicated by jail inmate records. He faces a total of 83 counts of first-degree attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of endangering an aircraft. These charges have been referred to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office for review, and Emerson is scheduled for arraignment at 2:05 p.m. on Tuesday.
The Port of Portland Police Department, along with the FBI, TSA, FAA, and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, are actively investigating this incident that has left the nation bewildered.