WATCH: Sunwing suspect’s father says his son has mental illness
TORONTO – The father of a 25-year-old passenger removed from a Sunwing flight today for allegedly threatening the plane and its passengers said his son suffers from depression and he’s tried for years to get him help.
Police arrested Ali Shahi after Sunwing flight WG772 heading from Toronto to Panama was forced to turn around after Shahi allegedly became agitated, making threats.
WATCH: Tactical team storms Sunwing plane at Pearson International Airport.
The 25-year-old now faces multiple criminal charges.
He appeared in court in Brampton on Saturday and was released on bail. Shahi is scheduled to be back in court on Aug. 25.
His father Sadegh Shahi said in an interview with Global News his son “is a good guy, but he has a mental problem.”
For years, Sadegh says, he and his wife have called police, doctors, and psychologists looking for help but no one has been able to help their son, who suffers from depression, and a gambling problem.
“He has deep depression. He’s in his room with the door locked. And this is the problem. We barely see him,” Sadegh said. “He has no friends, not even with his relatives; he doesn’t want to see anybody.”
This trip was supposed to be a happy one: Ali was headed to Panama Friday on a vacation with his girlfriend, his dad said.
But Sadegh said Ali appeared upset when his parents drove him to the airport Friday morning.
WATCH: A Peel region swat team storms the plane after a “direct threat” was made. Sean Mallen reports.
“His mood hasn’t been good for the last three or four days,” Sadegh said. “We kept telling him, ‘You have to be polite, you have to be nice’ … Me and his mother kept trying to give him advice.”
The Panama-bound flight departed from Pearson Airport just after 7 a.m. carrying a six-person crew and 183 passengers, including two infants. The flight turned around after roughly 45 minutes in the air.
Phil Thompson says he was sitting three rows ahead of Shahi.
“We heard him speaking, we heard him yelling. He was being pretty belligerent, using a lot of cuss words. He said he didn’t care what happened to the plane or the people on it and he didn’t like Canada and didn’t care about Canada,” Thompson said in an interview Friday.
Dramatic video shows a police tactical teams storming the plane after it landed, guns drawn, to apprehend Ali.
Sadegh said in the past he admitted his son to Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga to get treatment, only to have him discharged without making much progress.
“They let him go after ten days because he didn’t obey the rules,” Sadegh said. “Of course he didn’t obey the rules: He’s sick. He has a real mental problem.”
Calls to Credit Valley Hospital were not immediately returned Friday evening.
Ali Shahi faces four charges, including two mischief charges, uttering threats and endangering the safety of an aircraft. He’s expected to appear in court on Saturday for a bail hearing to face the allegations.
*With files from Global’s James Armstrong
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