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F-16 Jets Intercept Plane, Escort It Back to Toronto After Passenger Threat

An "agitated customer" made threats against a plane headed to Panama from Toronto on Friday, prompting the crew to turn the aircraft back.
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A plane en route from Canada to Panama was escorted back to Toronto by fighter jets on Friday after an unruly passenger made a threat, according to officials. Sunwing Flight 772 left Toronto at 7 a.m., but was turned around within 45 minutes after an "agitated customer made a direct threat against the aircraft," Janine Chapman, Sunwing's vice president of marketing, said in a statement. Chapman did not say what the nature of the threat was.

Two North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) F-16 fighter jets were diverted from a mission over Ohio and tasked with shadowing the plane until it landed safely at Pearson Airport in Toronto at approximately 8:55 a.m., a NORAD spokesperson said. The Boeing 737 was then stormed by tactical police, who conducted a security inspection, but nothing was found. The suspect, Ali Shahi, 25, was apprehended upon landing and has been charged with mischief to property, mischief interfering with the lawful enjoyment of property and uttering threats and endangering safety of an aircraft, according to local police.The other 182 passengers — including two infants — were "safe and in generally good spirits," Chapman said.


— Elisha Fieldstadt