Boy who hopped flights caught again at Sea-Tac

SEATAC — A boy who made national news when he talked his way onto airline flights to Texas last year has attempted another getaway.

Ten-year-old Semaj Booker was stopped Tuesday at a gate at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after he failed to show a boarding pass. His mother had reported him missing to Tacoma police at 3 a.m.

A check of security tapes at the security checkpoint operated by the Transportation Security Administration showed the boy going through the screening process, such as passing through a metal detector, at 4:53 a.m. But TSA was investigating to see why he was not required to show a boarding pass, said Dwayne Baird, Northwest region spokesman for TSA in Salt Lake City.

Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said the boy was detained at 6:35 a.m. while passengers were boarding a Southwest Airlines flight to Sacramento, Calif. The boy pointed to a man in front of him and said, “I’m with him,” but that was quickly found to be false, Cooper said.

Authorities confirmed the boy was reported missing and returned him to his mother, Cooper said.

He indicated to officers he was trying to get to Dallas, Cooper said.

In January 2007, when he was 9, Booker got through airport security and made it to San Antonio with a stop in Phoenix. Days before he had stolen and crashed a car.

His mother told authorities at the time he was unhappy living in the Tacoma suburb of Lakewood and wanted to be with his grandfather in Dallas.

A judge convicted Semaj of car theft last July but said he wouldn’t have to go to juvenile detention if he stayed out of trouble for a year.

Cooper said Tuesday’s incident would be referred to King County prosecutors to determine whether any new charges were warranted.

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