Armed 70-year-old tried to steal helicopter so he could fly to a hospital and free quarantined coronavirus patients

Gino Spocchia
A US Coast Guard helicopter: US Coast Guard/AFP via Getty Ima

Police in Michigan have arrested an armed 70-year-old man who allegedly plotted to steal a US Coast Guard helicopter and rescue hospitalised coronavirus patients.

Jesse T McFadden, from Omer, Michigan, was charged with four felonies following the series of events that started around 8am on Sunday morning.

Mr McFadden allegedly threatened to shoot Arenac County dispatchers and place them into “quarantine” during a phone call at 7.58am, said Hampton Township Police Lt Michael Wedding.

McFadden told dispatchers that he would shoot-up a police station and head to a hospital in Standish, Michigan, so he could shoot out the power and demand keys to ambulances.

He “wanted to disrupt the power to the hospital, unlock the doors, and release patients under COVID-19 quarantine”, read a court document on the case.

Police alleged that the 70-year-old also planned to steal a helicopter or boat from the US Coast Guard Station Saginaw River at Essexville.

McFadden arrived later at the coast guard station at 10.37am, and could be seen in surveillance cameras stationed outside the security gate.

“He was trying to punch in the code and then he had called them and made threats he was going to ram the gate,” said Lt Wedding.

Arenac County Central Dispatch warned police about Mr McFadden’s motives, with concerns that he was an ex-Michigan Militia member armed with guns.

Mr McFadden departed the coast guard station, before Michigan state police noticed his vehicle parked at an Essexville gas station at around 11.15am.

Lt Wedding said the driver’s side door was open and the engine was still running, when state police arrived at the scene alongside Bay County Sheriff’s deputies and local public safety officers.

Investigators said authorities found a loaded shotgun on the passenger seat of Mr McFadden’s SUV.

Mr McFadden, who was confronted when he walked out of the gas station store, was then tasered, arrested and taken into custody.

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