The father spoke at a news conference on condition of anonymity to protect his son. Sobbing at times, he said his son had a history of misbehavior but officials had told him they couldn't help because his son hadn't done anything bad enough yet.
"I'm tired of people saying he's a minor, there's nothing we can do. There's something somebody can do," said the dad, wearing a hoodie and baseball cap pulled low to hide his face.
The boy took a light-rail train to the airport last Thursday and blended in with a family to get past security, slipped past a gate agent and took an empty seat on the Delta Air Lines flight. The flight crew turned him over to police in Las Vegas, where he was still being held Wednesday.
The father spoke at the office of MAD DADS, where the community group's president, V.J. Smith, said county child protection workers told him the boy will be returned to Minnesota and reunited with his family Friday, not kept in custody. Smith added that the county would "wrap some services around the family."
The father said this son had been suspended from school for fighting before he slipped away Wednesday by saying he was taking out the trash. He said he and the boy's mother presumed he then went to a friend's house. She called police the next day, after he didn't come home, and learned he had been arrested in Las Vegas.
"How would you let a 9-year-old child go through a security check without stopping and questioning him? How can that be?" he asked.
The father confirmed his son was the same 9-year-old who stole a delivery truck in Minneapolis and crashed it into a suburban Edina police squad car two days before stowing away. He choked up as he recalled discussing the incident with an officer who brought the boy home.
"I asked the officer, 'Please sir can you go upstairs with me, watch me whup his butt?' The officer told me, 'If I see you hit your son we're going to have to lock you up.' I said, 'Sir, what can I do? I've been asking for help, but there's no one that's helping me.' I'm in what you call double jeopardy," he said.