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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
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 jmarx@citypages.com or follow him on Twitter at @marxjesse


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