Pilot of Stolen Cessna Wanted U.S. Fighter Jets to Shoot Him Down

Trooper said Yavuz Berke entered United States so military would kill him.

ByABC News
April 6, 2009, 8:57 PM

April 7, 2009— -- The Canadian man who led fighter jets on a chase across six states Monday flew his stolen plane into the United States. in hopes the military would shoot him down and kill him, according to a Missouri state trooper who apprehended the rogue pilot.

Missouri state trooper Justin Watson told "Good Morning America" today that 31-year-old Yavuz Berke, formerly known as Adam Leon, wanted to commit suicide, but didn't have the courage to do it himself.

"His idea was to fly the aircraft into the United States where he would be shot down," Watson said. "He stated several times that at any time he thought he was going to be shot down."

And he came close several times, Watson said.

Instead, Berke landed the single-engine Cessna 172 on U.S. Highway 60 in Ellsinore, Mo., at 9:50 p.m. ET. He made his way to a convenience store where a clerk noticed him and called police. He was found drinking Gatorade, seemingly relieved that his ordeal was over.

"He actually seemed fairly happy that it came to a good end," Watson said. "He didn't seem to be down in spirits or anything like that."

The U.S. military decided early on that Berke, a naturalized Canadian citizen who was born in Turkey, did not have any terroristic intentions, but was unclear at the time exactly what his plans were. As he flew over Madison, Wis., the state capitol building was evacuated as a precaution.

A North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman has said that the pilot knew the F-16s were off his wing, but did not respond despite repeated attempts to reach him on every frequency possible.

"If the answer was no, then there wasn't any reason to blow him out of the sky," ABC News aviation analyst Jim Nance told "Good Morning America," "although I'm sure they had the capability."

In a news release issued today, Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Ontario, confirmed that Berke was an aviation student who had access to Cessna training planes.

Berke first enrolled in the program in 2006 but did not successfully complete it. He was readmitted as a first year student in the fall of 2008, according to the statement. The college described Berke as a good student, polite and mature. He passed his cross-country solo flying test last week.

Watson said Berke is now in a Missouri jail and has told police that he had been hospitalized for psychological problems.

Burke was apparently treated for depression Friday and left his girlfriend a goodbye note, Canadian officials told the U.S. government. Berke's vehicle was left at the airport in Canada with the keys still in it.