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Flight student kidnapped by instructors who said he had to go back to China

5 years 11 months 3 weeks ago Monday, May 28 2018 May 28, 2018 May 28, 2018 9:27 PM May 28, 2018 in News
Source: ABC News
Photo: Redding Police Department

UPDATE: The defendants in this case entered pleas of no contest and were sentenced on misdemeanor counts in 2019. The court, in 2022, granted a petition that strikes the conviction of defendant Jonathan McConkey and seals court records in the matter. 

REDDING, Cal. - A Chinese student who was attending flight school in California was allegedly kidnapped by an instructor and his assistant who told the student that he had to go back to China, police said.

Cops were informed that Tianshu "Chris" Shi, 21, was being threatened after his brother in China called the local police in Redding, California, last week and said that Shi had called him and "told him somebody was at his apartment to take him away."

Shi had been in the United States for seven months at the time of the incident on a student visa which is valid for a year, according to the local paper, the Record Searchlight.

When his brother, Baihan Fu, didn't hear back from Shi, he called back and spoke to another flight student who told Fu that Shi "was just assaulted and taken away," according to the Redding Police news release.

Police said that a flight instructor named Jonathan McConkey, 48, and his assistant Kelis Hoser, 50, went to Shi's residence on the night of Thursday May 24 and said "they are sending him back to China," police said in their release.

In an interview with the Record Searchlight, Shi, who suffered minor injuries in the incident, said that the instructors didn't give any reason for why he'd have to return to China.

"I said I didn't receive any documents from China, so I decided not to go back," Shi told the paper.

Shi said that he didn't sleep at all after the instructors left his residence, and he feared that his roommates had been told to watch him overnight, he told the Record Searchlight.

According to the Redding police, McConkey and Hoser returned to the residence the following morning "to carry out this action."

"McConkey battered him, and threatened physical violence if he did not go with them," the police release said.

The Record Searchlight reports that Shi shared a recording that he said he took when the instructors returned to his residence on the morning of May 25.

The individuals who are recorded are not individually identified, but in addition to Shi there is one male and one female reportedly heard on the recording.

"You're going home, with or without your luggage," the male voice is heard saying.

The female is first heard speaking in Mandarin and then starts speaking English and allegedly says "If you cannot speak English, you are not going to be able to stay here."

The male voice then claims that Shi is "in my custody" and asks if he knows what that means. "It means I will forcibly remove you... If you want the police to come with guns, I got you on that, alright? Your ass is leaving now," the male voice is heard saying on the recording, according to the Record Searchlight.

The male voice used multiple profanities in the recording.

"Your ass is getting on the plane right now or I'll break your f------ arm. You better believe I'm f------ threatening you. And the United States government needs you out of this country right now, you understand?" the male voice says, according to the paper.

Police said Shi went with the instructors to Redding Municipal Airport "in fear of his safety" before police found the trio there.

McConkey and Hoser were arrested for conspiracy and kidnapping, according to Redding police.

A police sergeant told local ABC affiliate KRCR that he didn't know of any reports of misconduct from the school in the past.

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