California flight school employees accused of kidnapping

REDDING, Calif. (AP) — Two employees of a Northern California flight school were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a student pilot and trying to send him back to his native China, authorities said.

Jonathan McConkey, general manager at IASCO Flight Training, and his assistant, Kelsi Hoser, were taken into custody Friday at the municipal airport in Redding, police said.

Tianshu Shi, a trainee in the United States on a student visa, sustained minor injuries during the alleged kidnapping, investigators said.

McConkey and Hoser showed up at Shi’s apartment Thursday evening and told him he was going to be “shipped back” to China the following morning, said Redding Police Corporal Rob Peterson.

Shi had enrolled in the program through an organization that contracts with the school to train Chinese nationals, Peterson told the Los Angeles Times. The Civil Aviation Authority of China sends up to 180 students to the program, according to the school’s website.

The next day the pair returned to Shi’s apartment and told him to pack.

Shi told the Record Searchlight he didn’t sleep all night and when they returned, he recorded the confrontation. The profanity-

filled audio clip was obtained by the newspaper.

“I’ve got your (expletive) passport. You’re leaving now,” a male voice says in the recording. He later adds, “The United States government needs you out of this country right now, you understand?”

“You are here illegal, you know that,” a female voice says later. “If you don’t go with us, you go to jail.”

It wasn’t known Monday if McConkey or Hoser had attorneys who could comment on their behalf.

During the conversation, Peterson said, McConkey shoved Shi into a countertop, knocking him to the floor. Fearing for his safety, Shi got in their car, authorities said.

At some point, Shi managed to contact his brother in Shanghai and told him what was going on. When the brother didn’t hear back from Shi a short time later, he spoke to another flight school student who said Shi had been assaulted and kidnapped. Shi’s brother then called Redding police.