Passengers flying from Toronto to Panama had to make a U-turn just 45 minutes into their flight yesterday after a man aboard the plane started yelling about bombing Canada, reports the CBC. The captain felt threatened enough to notify NORAD, and two US fighter jets escorted the Sunwing Airlines jet as it returned to the airport. Police then stormed the plane and arrested 25-year-old Canadian citizen Ali Shahi and charged him with endangering the safety of an aircraft and uttering threats.
“I am sorry for what happened on the flight, but Ali is not at fault," his father tells CTV. "I blame the police and health system." He said his son has mental health issues but has never been violent, adding, “24 times in the last three years we have called police.” Eyewitnesses say Shahi's outburst came as a flight attendant made the rounds to distribute headsets. After declaring that he hated Canada, he said, "with great expression using his hands, 'I just want to bomb Canada,'" says a fellow passenger. The Globe and Mail notes that the mess actually turned out well for two passengers who missed the morning flight—they were able to get to Panama on the delayed flight in the afternoon.