Father of 9-year-old stowaway breaks down, pleads for someone to help his son

stowaway_pressconference.jpg
Screenshot of press conference today with the father of the nine-year-old stowaway and family spokesman, V.J. Smith
"Somebody please help me, please," said the father of the nine-year-old boy who sneaked on a plane to Las Vegas last week and made national headlines.

SEE ALSO: Boy bypasses Minneapolis Airport Security, boards plane to Las Vegas

Shielded by a black hoodie and a baseball cap, the father tearfully explained to reporters this morning that he has asked authorities for help to no avail. He's expecting the boy to come home, once he's cleared through the courts, on Friday.

A picture of the boy has emerged in the last couple of days suggesting he's both cunning and troubled. In an email leaked to the Strib, one Hennepin County social service official described the boy as "challenging" and said he has a history of sneaking into a Bloomington water park. He may also have stolen a car last month and later a truck, which he then crashed into a police squad car.

"I asked the officer, 'Please sir can you go upstairs with me, watch me whoop his butt,'" the father said. "The officer told me, 'If I see you hit your son we're gonna have to lock you up.'"

A reporter asked him whether his son had understood the implications of his actions.

"He told the police officer he thought he was playing Grand Theft Auto," the father responded.

There's still no official word on how exactly the boy made a mockery of both the TSA and Delta Air Lines. His mother works at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and authorities are investigating whether she played a role in his free pass through multiple layers of security. The father denied that she played any part.

The boy was unaccompanied at the time, but possibly blended in with another family and walked down the jetway while a Delta gate agent was distracted. Once in flight, attendants realized that the boy wasn't on the flight manifest and alerted authorities on the ground.

Since December 2012, the Strib reported, Hennepin County has conducted four assessments on the boy's family. He has alleged that his mother once held a knife to his throat.

One social service official recently wrote in an email to administrators and County Board members, "Typically, staff can tell if a child is lying, but with this child, they are unsure what is going on. This is a two-parent home, and there is at least one other child."

At the press conference today, one reporter tried prying open the family dynamic, but the father didn't answer the question directly. V.J. Smith, a family spokesman and head of the Minneapolis chapter of MAD DADS, rephrased it for him: "Has [the boy] been violent at all?"

"Not at home," the father said, but noted that the boy had been suspended from school in September for fighting.

At one point Smith thanked reporters for allowing the father to speak without revealing his identity. Then he reiterated the father's point: The boy needs help from an outside source.

"If we can just channel that energy in the right direction, he just might be our next president," Smith said.

-- Email Jesse Marx at jmarx@citypages.com or follow him on Twitter at @marxjesse

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81 comments
Sam Farris
Sam Farris

Maybe I'm looking at this all wrong, but if this man is embarrassed to be identified as this boy's father, maybe that speaks to part of the problem?

Traci Buck
Traci Buck

This boy went to take out the trash this is what the father said and he did come back . So why in the hell him being the parent why did he not find where his child went ??? The parent s are to blame for this they seem un fit to look out for him this kid was getting the light rail this kid was over town so why the hell dont the parent s know what hell is going with kid ?? I come on that mom and she be shamed i hope that take the child out of that home this shit is cazy has hell.

Max Robinson
Max Robinson

It makes me sad that he jumps to that. There are so many stimuli, including mental health and human influences.

Josh Arnold
Josh Arnold

Id the dad wants help, show your face and own it. Your kid is 9 years old and is wandering the streets by himself...he needs more attention and less free time.

Meagan Holtgrewe
Meagan Holtgrewe

i love how a 9 year old is pinned as a criminal...that thought process is utterly brilliant (not)

Erin Wixsten
Erin Wixsten

well, to start he's 9. and secondly, yes the judicial system is doing a bang up job. heaven forbid we seek more sucessful models and methods of intervention. or we could just be jaded and sarcastic about everything.

sheeze
sheeze

Uh, sorry dad. You want help, show your face. Own it. Your kid is 9 years old. He's wandering the streets by himself. He needs more attention and less free time. 

N Hyacinth Waters
N Hyacinth Waters

i know, right? how secure can our airplanes possibly be with random 9 year olds running around on em?

N Hyacinth Waters
N Hyacinth Waters

It begins at home and then it goes to the airport and then to Las Vegas.

N Hyacinth Waters
N Hyacinth Waters

Maybe if we try real hard we can make this story about video games.

N Hyacinth Waters
N Hyacinth Waters

thanks for the whaddayacall incisive political satire, buddy

N Hyacinth Waters
N Hyacinth Waters

what on earth are you talking about? what does this have to do with Obama?

N Hyacinth Waters
N Hyacinth Waters

the clear moral of this story is that the TSA should be hassling kids more as they (the kids) move through airport security

N Hyacinth Waters
N Hyacinth Waters

is such an explanation really called for? it's patently obvious that our federal TSA isn't the elite team of security professionals that it perhaps should or could be.

dirtyblondhotie
dirtyblondhotie

@citypages the kid should be sentenced to juvie. The mother should be terminated from her position, no matter if she was involved or not.

Fredlock Dobbs
Fredlock Dobbs

the kid is a kid. much sympathy. but the dad is incompetent.

Fredlock Dobbs
Fredlock Dobbs

how bout a grounding after the theft of the truck/crashing in to cop car? Just a suggestion/"some help"

TC4L
TC4L

He's 9.  There's a very good chance he'll grow out of it. THis all happened recently and obviously something's wrong and needs to be addressed. Hard to give up on a 9 yr old.  Now those people in their 30's+ doing this stuff, throw away the key.

Becki McVey Nesbit
Becki McVey Nesbit

This Dad is obviously setting up a lawsuit against Delta airlines and the TSA. The kid is disturbed and his parents can't control him and now it is our fault.

Shawn Clark
Shawn Clark

He is starting so young.And he will be in prison when he is older.

Susan Montgomery
Susan Montgomery

The situation just got worse with VJ on board. What a publicity seeker.

Guy Wright
Guy Wright

This kid is clearly yet another troubled inner city youth without a positive support system. A potential genius, all things considered... Big up to the racist Shitty Pages trolls! I highly doubt you could even display the intelligence to maneuver public transportation. You stay classy Vandais Heights!

mosaicgraffiti
mosaicgraffiti

R u fukkin kidding me VJ>?> always up for a press conference....taking advantage of the weak. Where is people like VJ before hand?! Oh oops I forgot, they are out taking advantage of the poor, black and dead. SMH

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0

Sounds like its a good thing he didn't make it to the tables in Vegas, he might have taken one of those casinos for quite a ride.

TweetsAreYours
TweetsAreYours topcommenter

Dude should have had a spokesman from BAD DADS, not the guy from MAD DADS. #TweetsAreYours

Latoya Peterson
Latoya Peterson

I love how judgemental the majority of you have been about the parents! First off...why are we not focusing on the fact that a 9 year old got onto the plane without a ticket? Second off...Minneapolis Police did nothing when he crashed into their squad car? Third off....it takes an army to raise a child...so this child is apart of the community!

Princess Lea
Princess Lea

Sounds like the child is a textbook sociopath. Intelligent, charming, cunning, confrontational, challenging, violent and no remorse. I hope this family gets the support they deserve and this boys get the much needed help he needs.

Carrie Lynn Lemon-Blossom
Carrie Lynn Lemon-Blossom

from what i have read this kid is a whole nother level of bad behavior and sneaky and smart to boot. As a teacher I have seen many kids with behavior problems such as this child and my heart goes out to this family

Jeanne Bain
Jeanne Bain

This father is coming forward in vulnerability. Stop shaming him, folks. The child needs and deserves help. NONE of the commenters that are judging him know the truth about what's going on. Let's hope you aren't in this vulnerable, public position in your lifetime. With your children.

Kevin Ames
Kevin Ames

Parents give up on 9 year old. Is now societies problem.

Theodore Catlin
Theodore Catlin

So someone else has to help raise his kid! Sounds like the Obama plan to me!!

nettatrends44
nettatrends44

this is without a doubt a smart kid who needs more from life, and should be offered  challenges worth his metal.

August Johnston
August Johnston

I'm a father of 5 kids and I can tell you there is no easy answer to this complicated situation. And Before people start pointing all their fingers at the parents, lets please keep in mind that children are their own beings. A child's existence is not 100% nurture... it's also nature at work (a simple way of saying it). I personally don't know this family, and all that goes with their dynamic, so for me to judge them would just be silly... and presumptuous. My guy tells me to give the parents the benefit of the doubt. And anyone who believes his little GTA excuse (grand theft auto) doesn't have any kids. I feel for the family because this is a family matter. It's really none of my business.

Noel Price Beck
Noel Price Beck

They still need to focus on security at the airport! I feel like that needs more attention than the father!

Traci Buck
Traci Buck

Why is this 9 yr old able to go all over mpls by him self it begins at home .

sosmpls
sosmpls

@Becki McVey Nesbit The mother works at the airport, didn't call the police when her 9 year old didn't come home Wed. night, then stayed away from work on the day the kid took his flight. Yep, I smell a law suit.

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0

@Princess Lea

Yup, if they don't channel his energies in a positive direction, this kid could end up the CEO of some Mega Corp or working on Wall Street with all the other sociopaths. He'll be stealing a lot more than lunch and an airplane ride.

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0

@Kevin Ames  

If not now, then later. Some people think its wise to correct problems as they arise rather than wait until its too late and much more expensive to fix. Of course we can always put our partisan blinders and ignore the problem. That's not a smart way to go through life, but is a popular one with a certain segment of the population.

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0

@Theodore Catlin  

 Sounds very sensible, help now when he's still young, rather than wait and pay 50-60 grand a year to keep him in prison. Of course that requires thinking ahead, we don't do that well do we Ted?

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@Chad Liljegren Please try to read the article before posting. Can you read?

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