TV news producer detained while tailing 9-year-old stowaway back to Minneapolis

Screenshot of Oct. 9 press conference with the father of the nine-year-old stowaway and family spokesman, V.J. Smith
-- Updated with name of the producer and upcoming hearing --

This weekend, the nine-year-old boy who sneaked onto a plane to Las Vegas and made national headlines returned to Minneapolis along with two bodyguards and a stealthy TV producer, who was detained and questioned here.

An NBC station in Nevada says the producer tried taking a photograph of the boy after the plane landed. That producer, John Getter, described the boy and the scene this way:
Bigger than expected and slept much of the trip. He was in the back of the airplane with two guys guarding him. He was last to get off. Police surrounded him, but he didn't come through (the) terminal. About 10 cops helped escort him off the flight onto tarmac away from the crowds and the terminal.
A picture of the boy has emerged in the last week that suggests 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.

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

Shielded by a black hoodie and ball cap, the boy's father tearfully explained to reporters that previously he had asked authorities for help. He entreated from the darkness of his veil: "Somebody please help me, please."

On Friday, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office petitioned the court and kick-started the process of determining what level of intervention is appropriate. There are two options, the second of which seems more likely: The county will either take him or set him up with intensive social service care.

The mother has told the county that until mid-August the boy had been seeing a therapist.

It's believed he cased the airport on Oct. 2, and authorities point to surveillance footage showing how he dined and dashed at a pre-security restaurant. The TSA has yet to explain how the boy got through without a ticket the next day, but says he was screened along with everyone else.

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

Authorities in Nevada say the boy reacted aggressively and was transported to a hospital before being handed over to child protection services.

His parents are expected to make a statement after a child protection hearing on Wednesday. He's too young to be charged with a crime.

-- Email Jesse Marx at or follow him on Twitter at @marxjesse

My Voice Nation Help

"Shielded by a black hoodie and ball cap, the boy's father.."

C'mon now. Jesus Christ.

Joe Strom
Joe Strom

I remember my first Mad Dads shirt.

Nick Benedict
Nick Benedict

His dad was on a conference call via Bluetooth when his son traveled to Las Vegas. Who says cell phone and hands free devices aren't a distraction?

Ly-Zhou Sherry
Ly-Zhou Sherry

This kid needs to be recruited by the TSA. He's got some skills. Seriously. Naughty or misguided, he has a knack for slipping by.

Mary Beth
Mary Beth

I think its time to leave this kid and his family alone.

Joe Strom
Joe Strom

No shit, all of the news agencies(including the City Pages) have been reporting this like there is nothing else going on in the world.


@atrupar @marxjesse I believe our local affiliate aired a brief post-flight interview with the producer Saturday night. Can't recal if ID'd.


@Joe Strom Mad Dads beat the heck out of that skeevy Curtis Sliwa outfit Guardian Angels.  Remember when that showboat tried to fleece us rubes in flyover land in the late '80s / early '90s?  What a slimer that guy was and still is.

mingtran topcommenter

Mad dads are funny. I see them handing out fliers DT sometimes...but always only to black people. I've tried to non-verbally get them to give me one a couple different times but to no avail

TweetsAreYours topcommenter

@Mary Wick And you'll start by not watching TV news coverage or not reading online postings about the boy, correct?

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