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Suicidal pilot fails in his bid to get shot down

A MAN suspected of stealing a plane in Canada and flying erratically across three states was trying to commit suicide, hoping he would be shot down by military fighter planes.

Adam Dylan Leon, 31, was arrested at a convenience store in Ellsinore, Missouri, shortly after landing the single-engine, four-seat Cessna on a rural Missouri road on Monday night after a six-hour flight, police said.

FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said Leon was a native of Turkey who changed his name from Yavuz Berke and became a Canadian citizen last year.

The plane was tracked as a "flight safety issue" and was not believed to be a terrorist threat, Mike Kucharek, spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said in Colorado Springs.

The Missouri state trooper who arrested Leon said the pilot told him he had hoped to be shot down. "He made a statement that he was trying to commit suicide and he didn't have the courage to do it himself. And his idea was to fly the aircraft into the United States, where he would be shot down," Justin Watson said.

Watson said Leon apparently hitched a ride to the convenience store after landing on a highway and taxiing the plane to a side road. He didn't appear surprised when the officer entered the convenience store to arrest him.

"He didn't have any ID, but he was the person we were looking for," Watson said.

He said Leon "gave me no indication that it was anything other than he was having personal problems and was in an attempt to end his life."

The plane was reported stolen on Monday from Thunder Bay International Airport in Ontario. It was tailed as a precaution by F-16 fighters from the Wisconsin National Guard after crossing into the state.


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