Pilot, assistant arrested for trying to kidnap flight school student and deport him

The two suspects are Jonathan McConkey, the general manager of the IASCO flight school, and his assistant Kelsi Hoser


                            Pilot, assistant arrested for trying to kidnap flight school student and deport him

A Chinese flight school student was allegedly kidnapped by a pilot and his assistant in California who were attempting to deport the student on Friday morning. Their plan, however, was thwarted and the two were arrested in Northern California.

The Redding police department released a statement on social media stating that they responded to call about an alleged kidnapping at 7:18 am of a student named Tianshu Shi at the 1,400 Block of Trudie Trai, reports state. 

The statement also added that the suspects had warned the 21-year-old flight student on Thursday night telling him that "they were sending him back to China."



The two suspects are Jonathan McConkey, the general manager of the IASCO flight school, and his assistant, Kelsi Hoser. The duo has been accused of planning and executing a kidnapping, according to reports.

Tianshu Shi thanked the officers and told them that he was grateful for their timely action which prevented his unlawful deportation (Getty Images)
Tianshu Shi thanked the officers and told them that he was grateful for their timely action which prevented his unlawful deportation (Getty Images)

Reports state that after threatening Shi, the duo showed up at his home the next morning where the pilot "battered him, and threatened physical violence if he did not go with them," CNN reported.

Shi, fearing for his safety, left his house with the duo. However, he called his brother in Shanghai before leaving. His brother then contacted the Redding Police Department and alerted them to the situation. 

This photo shows students who are enrolled in the IASCO Flight Training school in Redding (IASCO Flight Training)

This photo shows students who are enrolled in the IASCO Flight Training school in Redding (IASCO Flight Training)

The officers then rushed to the Redding Municipal Airport and found all three of them there. The officials then arrested McConkey and Hoser on suspicion of conspiracy and kidnapping. Shi, who was also taken in for questioning, was later released. 

While talking to the Record Searchlight newspaper, Shi said that he did not have any idea why the suspects targeted him. He said that he had been banned from flying two months ago and suspected it was because of his English, reports state.

Shi said: "I can't speak English well in life, but I can speak English well with air traffic control." He also added that when McConkey and Hoser were at his house on Friday morning, he decided to record their conversation.

Authorities have not yet given a possible motive why the suspects were targeting Shi. (IASCO Flight Training)
Authorities have not yet given a possible motive why the suspects were targeting Shi. (IASCO Flight Training)

Shi gave the audio recording to the Searchlight, where a man's voice can be heard saying: "You're going, with or without your luggage."

The assistant can also be heard in the tape speaking in Mandarin to Shi and then she switches to English, saying: "Speak English, please! Can you speak English? If you cannot speak English, you are not going to able to stay here."

The woman then tells the flight student that he is now in their custody and then the male voice can be heard saying: "And the United States government needs you out of this country right now, you understand?"

Students attending a class at IASCO Flight Training institute. (IASCO Flight Trainaing)
Students attending a class at IASCO Flight Training institute. (IASCO Flight Trainaing)

The student sustained minor injuries during the incident and was reportedly shaken by the kidnapping. 

Shi told Searchlight that he was grateful to the police officers for rescuing him: "The police officer is the best American," he said.

Reports state that Shi has been in the United States for nearly seven months on an M-1 visa. His visa is valid for a year.