Canadian plane thief nabbed in Missouri

WAUSAU, Wis. The single-engine, four-seat Cessna was intercepted by U.S. fighter jets over Wisconsin, where it prompted the evacuation of the state capitol, but kept flying south after the pilot failed to respond to radio calls and other signals.

Mike Kucharek, spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado, said the Cessna 172 was stolen from Thunder Bay, Ontario, about 2:30 p.m. Monday. The pilot was flying erratically and didn't communicate with the fighter pilots from the Wisconsin Air National Guard who intercepted the plane at the Michigan-Wisconsin border, he said.

The pilot had acknowledged seeing the F-16s but he didn't obey their nonverbal commands to follow them, Kucharek said.

The pilot finally landed the plane on a road at Ellsinore near Poplar Bluff in far southeastern Missouri, said Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

A man named Adam Dylan Leon, 31, was taken into custody about 9:30 p.m. in the same area, said Sgt. Marty Elmore, a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Brown said the plane came from the Confederation College Flight School at Thunder Bay International Airport.

The plane landed about six hours after the reported theft, and had enough fuel for about eight hours of flight, NAADC officials said.

"We tailed it all the way," Maj. Brian Markin said. "Once it landed our aircraft returned to base."

In Madison, Department of Justice spokesman Bill Cosh said the state Capitol was evacuated shortly after 5 p.m. as a precaution because of the airplane.

Many workers had already left for the day. Gov. Jim Doyle was not in the building. He had been in Chicago Monday.

Capitol police ordered everyone out of the building and told them to go at least a block away. Police cars with sirens on drove on the sidewalks by the doors of the Capitol. Others drove on the streets of the Capitol square, telling people to move away.

People were allowed back in the building about an hour later.



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