Springhill woman safe after Flight 918 hijacking

Christopher Gooding
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SPRINGHILL - Jackie Mahoney is breathing a sigh of relief knowing the gunman who hijacked a plane with her daughter on board in Montego Bay is in police custody.

Mahoney's daughter, Michelle, and her boyfriend were two of the 174 passengers on board CanJet Flight 918 from Halifax to Cuba when it was hijacked Sunday by a lone gunman during a scheduled stop in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The gunman demanded money and flight to Cuba.
Passengers of Flight 918 were released Monday after giving up their possessions while the gunman retained five crew members as hostages before police arrested the hijacker.
For Mahoney, though, the ordeal was over as soon as her daughter was safe.
"She's in a Holiday Inn in Montego Bay. She's all right but she's very scared," Mahoney said Monday. "They had to leave everything on the place. Her money, her passport."
Initial reports indicated the gunman fired his weapon but it was yet to be confirmed if the shot originated from inside or outside the plane.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered airplane services to any Canadian stranded in Montego Bay because of the ordeal. But Mahoney chose to continue her trip to Cuba. On board were four wedding parties and a number of hearing-impaired persons. Michelle was travelling as part of a wedding party.
Michelle is a graduate of Springhill Junior/Senior High School and works with Dalhousie University's Department of Occupational Therapy.
Police disarmed the gunman, described as being in his 20s and mentally challenged, Monday morning with the help of his father.
Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding expressed relief that the standoff was over, apologized to Canadian passengers for their ordeal and promised a complete and thorough investigation into what he called an obvious security breakdown.
Arrangements to provide accommodations for the passengers have been made and they've been offered funds to compensate for the money they surrendered to their captor.
No injuries were reported.
Police in Jamaica identified the man in custody as Stephen Fray, 23, a resident of Montego Bay. No other details were immediately available, though Information Minister Daryl Vaz earlier described him as a man with "mental challenges." - with files from The Canadian Press
cgooding@springhillrecord.com

Organizations: Holiday Inn, Dalhousie University, Canadian Press

Geographic location: Montego Bay, Cuba, Jamaica Halifax

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