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Father of runaway boy who flew to Las Vegas blames airport security

  • Father of boy, 9, who boarded Delta flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas on Thursday morning speaks out
  • Says his son is not an angel and has behavioral problems
  • Questions the role of security in letting his son pass through checks
  • He passed three levels of checks before flight crew got suspicious mid-air
  • Nine-year-old said he was visiting an online gaming friend in Las Vegas
  • The family has been subject of four child protection assessments this year

By
Sara Malm


PUBLISHED:

06:14 GMT, 9 October 2013


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UPDATED:

07:32 GMT, 9 October 2013

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The father of the nine-year-old boy who sneaked onto a plane from Minneapolis to Las Vegas has denied being a bad parent and said his child is ‘no angel’ who has a ‘behavior problem’.

Preferring to give an interview that obscured his identity, the father said he questioned the role of the TSA in allowing his child to not only get through security but to be allowed to board the plane before being discovered.

‘You have so much security at an airport, how can you let a nine-year-old sneak past security get on the plane, without anyone stopping him, questioning him or anything,’ the father said to Minneapolis radio station WCCO.

Interview: The father of the nine-year-old boy who boarded a flight from Minnesota to Las Vegas on Thursday morning says that his son is 'no angel' but is still just a boy

Interview: The father of the nine-year-old boy who boarded a flight from Minnesota to Las Vegas on Thursday morning says that his son is ‘no angel’ but is still just a boy

The father said that his son’s behavior had become an issue when he was five-years-old but denied that his boy was on any medication.

He told the radio station that on Wednesday, the night the nine-year-old disappeared, his boy took out the trash but didn’t come back in.

However, this was not the first time he had exhibited behavior like this and in the past had spent the night at his friend’s house.

This comes as it emerged nine year-old boy who made it past security and onto a flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas may have been on his way to visit someone he met online.

The child made it to at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport by himself, slipped through a security checkpoint and then
boarded a Delta Air Lines flight before he was discovered by suspicious flight attendants.

When Las Vegas police met the boy upon landing he told them that he had a ‘video game buddy’ who lived in the city who he was there to visit.

Leaving: A 9-year-old runaway passed through this security checkpoint at Minneapolis airport without a ticket

Leaving: A 9-year-old runaway passed through this security checkpoint at Minneapolis airport without a ticket

A security video shows the boy at the airport terminal on Wednesday, the day before his trip, officials said.

He
took a bag from the carousel that did not belong to him and ordered
lunch at a restaurant outside of the security checkpoints, MAC spokesman
Patrick Hogan said.

He ate and then told the server he had to use the bathroom, left the bag and never returned to pay.

The owner of the bag was identified
and the bag was returned to him, Mr Hogan said. At this point, this is a
Delta and [Transport Security Administration] issue,’ he added. ‘This
is a rare incident.’

In a statement to Minneapolis TV station KARE-11, Delta officials said: ‘We are investigating the incident and cooperating with the agencies involved.’

Leaving: The runaway boy flew to Las Vegas from Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport on a Delta plane like this one, pictured. It was only discovered mid-air that he had no ticket

Leaving: The runaway boy flew to Las Vegas from Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport on a Delta plane like this one, pictured. It was only discovered mid-air that he had no ticket

KARE-11 reported that authorities believe the nine-year-old boy is a runaway from the Twin Cities.

‘He had to pass three levels of security,’ said Terry Trippler, an air travel expert with ThePlaneRules.com, to the TV station.

‘He had to pass three levels of security. You have the TSA, the gate agents, and the flight crew and a child comes through without even a seat assignment’

Terry Trippler, air travel expert

‘You have the TSA, the gate agents, and the flight crew and a child comes through without even a seat assignment.’

Mr Tippler said that security introduced after 9/11 obviously still has major flaws. ‘While we are safer in the air, this proves there are still gaping holes,’ he added.

According to a surveillance video,
at 10.37am, the unaccompanied boy arrived at the airport on a
southbound light-rail car.

The
boy was then screened at Terminal 1 and granted access to its nine
airlines despite appearing to have never produced a required ticket.

Destination: Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, with the 'Strip' in the background. The nine-year-old flew here from Minneapolis without a ticket

Destination: Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, with the ‘Strip’ in the background. The nine-year-old flew here from Minneapolis without a ticket

The boy is currently in protective custody in Las Vegas after local police filed a missing persons report.

Upon contacting Minneapolis services, they discovered that the boy’s parents were not aware that he was missing and had to be told by police.

The boy’s parents told Minneapolis Police they ‘hadn’t seen much of him today’ when officers arrived at the missing child’s residence on Thursday after he was reported having run away, according to CBS Minneapolis.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police spokesman Bill Cassell told ABC News the boy was ‘more worldly than most nine-year-old kids.’

‘He was able to get onto an airline where he didn’t have a ticket and made it five states across the U.S.,’ Mr Cassell said. ‘If it hadn’t been for alert airline employees on our end, he probably never would have been discovered.’

According
to local media, the boy’s mother works at the airport and her possible
involvement in her son’s joyride is being investigated.

The Star
Tribune reports that the child is known to social services  and has been
the subject of four child protection assessments this year alone.

Only
last week the boy stole a utility vehicle from downtown Minneapolis and
made it onto the motorway before he was pulled over.

He also has a history of playing truant and sneaking into a local water park without paying entry.

The boy remains in protective custody in Las Vegas and authorities are working with his parents.

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