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Stowaway's dad says he requested help for problem son

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (WEAU) -- Airport security questions linger after a young boy got through security last Thursday and stowed away on a flight without a ticket.

On Wednesday, we heard from one of the boy's parents for the first time. The father, wearing a hoodie and a hat to disguise his identity, told reporters he has struggled with his son's behavior.

"If I whoop my son, I get locked up," he said. "If I let my son keep on doing what he's doing, I get in trouble. Somebody please help me, please."

He made the plea, in frustration, after a chain of events. In addition to the plane ride, investigators say the boy stole a 30-foot delivery truck in Minneapolis and crashed it into a police car. Police also say he has a history of taking the light rail to a suburb near the airport, where he would sneak into a water park by blending in with families.

"Evidently, he'd been riding the train and getting on the train and kind of rolling around and doing, you know, running off a little bit," said family spokesman V.J. Smith.

"He's not what you call an honor student," the boy's father said. "He have his ups, he have his downs."

A county child protection agency has reviewed the boy's situation since December. Before the boy flew to Las Vegas, sources say he got to the airport via light rail and got through security by staying close to a family. At the gate, security video shows him talking to an agent, who turned away to speak to someone else. That's when investigators say he must have made his way onto the plane. After the flight took off, attendants noticed that no unaccompanied children were listed. They called for police to meet the plane when it landed.

"I don't know how my 9 year old son's brain acts," the father said.

Delta Airlines and the TSA are investigating as well. The boy's mother works at the Minneapolis airport.
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The father of a 9-year-old boy who evaded security to stow away on a flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas says he's been frustrated in his efforts to get help for the troubled boy.

The father spoke to reporters in Minneapolis on Wednesday on condition of anonymity, with a hoodie and baseball cap pulled low to hide his face. Sobbing at times, he said Hennepin County officials told him they couldn't help because his son hadn't done anything bad enough yet.

A leaked memo from the county's human services department says the boy's background included auto theft and sneaking into a suburban water park.

Carolyn Marinan, a county spokeswoman, said she couldn't comment on the boy's case due to privacy restrictions.


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