Pilot Arrested for Unthinkable Plot to Send Student Back to China

Janita Kan
By Janita Kan
May 28, 2018US News
Pilot Arrested for Unthinkable Plot to Send Student Back to China
(Redding Police Department)

A pilot and his assistant were arrested Friday, May 25, after they allegedly abducted a foreign flight student and attempted to send him back to China, police said.

Jonathan McConkey, a pilot and certified flight instructor, and his assistant, Kelsi Hoser, are accused of orchestrating the abduction of flight student Tianshu “Chris” Shi in order to send him back to China, according to a police statement. The pair reportedly worked for IASCO Flight Training school in Redding, California, reported Record Searchlight.

Redding Police Department officers said on May 25 at about 7:18 a.m. that they responded to a reported kidnapping at 1400 block of Trudie Trail in Redding.

Officers received a tip from the victim’s brother, Baihan Fu, that his brother Shi, 21, has been assaulted and taken from his apartment.

Authorities alleged that McConkey, 48, and Hoser went to Shi’s Trudie Trail home on May 24 to tell him to pack as they were going to send him back to China. In the morning, they are said to have returned to the student’s residence to carry out their plan. When Shi refused to leave with them, McConkey allegedly battered the 21-year-old and threatened physical violence if he didn’t obey.

“I said [to them] I didn’t receive any documents from China, so I decided not to go back,” Shi told Searchlight.

Shi feared for his safety and eventually left with McConkey and Hoser who took him to Redding Municipal Airport for a flight back to China.

“He’s very rude, used too much [sic] dirty words. I can’t describe,” he told the news website.

Officers were able to locate McConkey, Hoser, and Shi at the airport. The pilot and his assistant were then arrested and booked for conspiracy and kidnapping, according to police. Shi had sustained minor injuries and was subsequently returned to his apartment.

According to the IASCO Flight Training school website, the school had contracted with the Civil Aviation Authority of China to train new pilots for Chinese airlines. Shi was apparently one of those students and had been in the United States for seven months, reported Washington Post.

The 21-year-old student said McConkey and Hoser did not explain to him why they wanted him out of the country. He told Searchlight that he had been forbidden to fly two months prior and that his limited English may have been a problem.

According to an audio recording, which reportedly contains the confrontation between the flight school staff and Shi, a woman could be heard telling the student that he could not stay in the U.S. because he “cannot speak English.” A man can also be heard giving the student directions to leave, reported Record Searchlight.

“You are here illegal, you know that. If you don’t go with us, you go to jail,” the woman can be heard saying.

A second student, 24-year-old Zhang Xun Yi, has come forward to share his similar experience with Shi, reported the news website.

Police are currently investigating the incident. No further information has been released.


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