RCMP confirm Peterborough plane crash was subject of national security investigation
A day after Global News reported the RCMP was investigating national security aspects related to the stolen plane that crashed in Peterborough, Ont. last week, the RCMP has confirmed its national security enforcement unit was involved in the investigation.
The national police force also said it found no threat to national security, no motive for the theft and declined to provide an explanation as to how a 20-year-old Markham man with mental health issues who “acted alone,” managed to steal the plane undetected and crash it in a major Ontario city.
Mohammad Hassan Chaudhary of Markham, Ont. was killed after the small Piper Tomahawk aircraft he allegedly stole from the Markham Airport smashed into the ground just before 1:30 a.m. Aug. 12 near the Landsdowne Place mall. Chaudhary’s father told Global News his son lived with schizophrenia and other mental health issues.
Afzal Chaudhary said his he is shocked his son was able to steal and fly the plane without a “single minute” of flight training.
Sources close to the investigation confirmed to Global News the RCMP led the inquiry into the crash and Chaudhary said they had met with him “many times” to discuss his son’s involvement.
RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Penny Hermann initially told Global News the national police force was investigating “the reasons that the aircraft was stolen” with the Peterborough Police Service and York Regional Police, but declined to comment on whether the RCMP was leading the investigation or if it was being treated as a national security issue.
After declining multiple requests for additional comment, Hermann contacted Global News Thursday evening with a brief updated statement.
“I just got information saying that based on our joint investigation in regards to that plane crash, there is no national security aspect,” said Hermann, who was unavailable for further comment.
The RCMP released a statement Friday afternoon that said the three police services had been “working together” to investigate the crash and confirmed the Ontario RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) had been involved in the investigation.
“As Canadian airspace incidents involve federal authorities in the investigation, PPS contacted the Ontario RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) during their initial investigation as did YRP during their investigation,” the statement said.
“INSET has followed up on the information provided by both police services and we have no information to indicate there is a link with national security. The investigation has not revealed the motive for the theft and all indications are that the young man acted alone.”
Chaudhary expressed outrage over the fact that his son was somehow able to break into the airport, steal a small aircraft and crash land on the streets of Peterborough without any intervention from police or airport security officials.
Although he cannot confirm how his son allegedly broke into the airport and stole the plane, Chaudhary said Thursday he suspects his son had possibly done it as an “adventure” and that his son should have been apprehended as soon as he entered the airport.
A source close to the investigation told Global News something was found in the wreckage that concerned police, while the owners of the stolen Piper Tomahawk said their plane was full of fuel and was capable of flying up to five hours.
The RCMP said it is “very common” for the police service to work with other jurisdictions and added it had no further details to provide on the investigation.
Mark Carcasole, Ashley Carter, Veronica Tang and Simon Ostler contributed to this report
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