A security threat caused two U.S. F-16s to escort a Panama City-bound flight back to Toronto on Friday morning after a man allegedly made threatening statements on-board the plane.
The Sunwing plane departed Toronto’s Pearson airport at 7 a.m. and was over West Virginia when it was forced back 45 minutes into the flight. A 25 year-old Canadian citizen made what the airline claims was a direct security threat toward the aircraft.
The plane landed in Toronto and was boarded by a police tactical unit with guns drawn. The man, apparently already subdued by passengers, was arrested and is now charged with mischief to property, mischief interfering of the lawful enjoyment of property, uttering threats, and endangering the safety of an aircraft.
All 181 passengers and six crew members disembarked from the plane. No damage was done to the plane.
The incident unfolded after the accused learned that cigarettes were cheaper on the plane than in Canada, causing him to announce that he didn’t like Canada, that he didn’t care about what happened to the people on the flight, and that he perhaps wanted to bomb Canada, according to passengers’ first-hand accounts of the situation.
The accused man has been released from court on CDN$1,000 bail and was ordered not to board a plane or enter Pearson Airport as condition for his release.
According to his father, the accused suffers from mental illness and has been sent to a hospital for at least 72 hours to undergo a psychological assessment.