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Cops: Flight Instructor Tried to Deport Foreign Student

Calif. man charged with kidnapping
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2018 6:58 AM CDT
Jonathan McConkey.   (Redding Police Department)

(Newser) – A flight school manager in California and his assistant have been arrested over a bizarre alleged plot to kidnap one of the students and deport him back to China. Police say flight instructor Jonathan McConkey and assistant Kelsi Hoser from the IASCO Flight Training went to the Redding apartment of 21-year-old Tianshu Shi last Thursday night and told him to pack because he had to go back to China, the Washington Post reports. Shi says he was "battered" by McConkey when they came for him the next morning, but he was able to call his brother in Shanghai before they took him to the local airport, where they had apparently planned to put him on one of the school's planes.

The brother called police, who went to the airport and arrested McConkey and Hoser on suspicion of conspiracy and kidnapping, CNN reports. Shi believes they had planned to take him to the Bay Area and put him on a flight to China, the Record Searchlight reports. Shi recorded audio in which a man and a woman can be heard threatening him and telling them he is in their custody. "If you cannot speak English, you are not going to be able to stay here," the woman says. IASCO trains Chinese pilots for Chinese airlines, and Shi was at the flight school under a valid visa. He says he has been grounded for the last two months, apparently because of his struggle to learn English. "I can’t speak English well in life, but I can speak English well with air traffic control," he says. (Read more California stories.)

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