Father Pleads for Help after Son Boards Plane to Vegas

Updated: 10/10/2013 7:45 AM KSTP.com By: Maricella Miranda

The father of the boy who snuck onto a plane headed for Las Vegas. He was at a news conference Wednesday, wearing a sweatshirt with the hood up.
The father of the boy who snuck onto a plane headed for Las Vegas. He was at a news conference Wednesday, wearing a sweatshirt with the hood up.
Photo: Photo: KSTP

The father of a 9-year-old Minneapolis boy who snuck onto a plane at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and flew to Las Vegas pleaded and cried for help Wednesday with controlling his son.

"I'm tired of people saying, 'He's a minor; there's nothing we can do,'" said the boy's father, whose identity was masked during a news conference by a black hoodie and baseball cap. The father wanted to hide his identity.

The boy is expected to return to his family Friday, said V.J. Smith, CEO and president of the organization MAD DADS, who participated in the news conference with the father. Smith said his group is helping the family.

The boy left his house last week after saying he was going to take the trash out, his father said. After that, the boy never came back. His parents assumed he was at a friend's house.

"He made a decision on his own," his father said. "I'm a parent. I'm not perfect."

The boy's mother wasn't present during the news conference, but Smith read a statement from her, "I love my son. I miss my son. I want my son home."

The boy was making the trip to meet someone he had met online, MSP spokesman Patrick Hogan said Tuesday. The boy possibly met the person through a video game. His mother told authorities that the family has no friends or family in Las Vegas.

The boy reportedly took a light rail train to the airport on both Wednesday, Oct. 2, and Thursday, Oct. 3. Before boarding the flight for Las Vegas, the boy spent at least part of his time at Hot Dish, a restaurant in Terminal 1, where he reportedly ordered food then left without paying, said Hot Dish server Jacob Smith.

The boy also has been reportedly connected to stealing a delivery truck at United Noodles in Minneapolis. Business owner Mei Dang said Minneapolis police told her the boy who stole the truck was in Las Vegas.

She says surveillance video shows the suspect "came in from the gate. He got in the truck. He was just driving the truck like driving a game, made a couple of turns in the parking lot and then hit a post."

The truck then took off, and it wasn't long before police were chasing it. Police reports say witnesses identified the driver as a child. Nearly 10 miles away from United Noodles, the truck crashed into an Edina Police car that had joined the chase.

Police have not confirmed that the 9-year-old was involved in the vehicle theft.

During Wednesday's news conference, the boy's father confirmed that his son stole the vehicle. He said the boy told police he thought he was playing Grand Theft Auto, a video game.

The boy recently was suspended from school for fighting, said his father. However, the boy hasn't been violent at home.

Read more about the boy's past and recent incident at MSP airport here.