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Well-known runaway Semaj Booker faces new criminal charges

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Oct. 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm with 34 Comments »
October 19, 2010 3:19 pm

Pierce County’s notorious runaway is in trouble again.

Semaj Booker, now 13, was charged last week with third-degree theft and making a false or misleading statement to police after he allegedly stole a yo-yo Oct. 8 from an East Side store. When Tacoma police officers contacted him outside the store, Semaj first gave them the name of his cousin and a student identification number.

Semaj, who is not in custody, is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Thursday.

Semaj first made headlines in January 2007 when, at the age of 9, he stole a neighbor’s car and led Lakewood police on a high-speed chase. He ran away from home the next day and managed to board a Southwest Airlines flight from Sea-Tac Airport to Phoenix and another flight to Texas without a boarding pass either time.

He originally received a deferred disposition for the crimes but that was revoked in 2008 after Semaj sneaked out of his house, traveled along to Sea-Tac Airport, thwarted federal security and got to a departure gate where he tried to board another plane. Semaj was convicted  of taking a motor vehicle without permission and attempting to elude police officers.

In 2008, Semaj also pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a law enforcement officer after he broke into an apartment. He got credit for the 26 days he served in juvenile detention and was ordered to perform four hours of community service and write a letter of apology to Tacoma police.

The recent charges are both gross misdemeanors, deputy prosecutor Fred Wist said. If convicted, Semaj faces up to 12 months of community supervision, up to 150 hours of community service and up to 30 days in juvenile detention on each count.

At the time of his arrest, Semaj was not on active supervision from his previous convictions, Wist said.

Leave a comment Comments → 34
  1. Ahhh, Sweet Little James (Semaj) will receive ANOTHER full on Hug-Your-Thug Moment from Lindquist and the Prosecuters Office !

    Only a matter of time before this societal parasite graduates to higher felonies !

  2. Perhaps his mother should be locked up. At this rate he will be a danger to the community when he grows up.

  3. Whatever brand of YoYo he stole, can now be negotiated with for an endorsement.

    Soon this kid’s face might be seen in sporting good, skateboard shops, toy stores, supermarkets and in the pop media such as YouTube, and TV. If his friends shoot a video of him ‘breaking the law’ by sneaking aboard another plane, while playing with his yoyo and getting somewhere (they’d have to take a separate flight to arrive where he is going), then this prank will be worth a few million $.

    So far, this is a struggle between the law (the man) and a boy (the public), there will be those who hate him, like the other comments here so far, and those who praise him, like 50 million other Americans. Civil disobedience is not yet completely squashed… is it?

  4. The hand writing is on the wall for this kid and it isn,t Graffiti!All one has to do is wait for this kid to become old to be considered an adult and be tried as an adult for any infraction of the law.Unfortunatly none of his previous unlawful escapades will be admissable and he will again be advised to go home and be a good boy!The only thing this kid seems to be learning is how to beat the system and he should be getting an A for his learning experience.All of his criminal activity will be expunged from his record when he reaches 18!

  5. ntreader says:

    Did he or his family ever reimburse the Kettner family for the car he stole and totaled in 2007 during one of his first crime sprees?

  6. No Surprises here folks !

    Another slap-on-the-wrist coming at you !

    Next !

  7. ffgandarajd says:

    This kid is loving the media attention… Good job for making him famous again….

  8. ttownwherethesunrises says:

    I am shocked!

  9. scalvishnu says:


  10. Whatever1214 says:

    This newspaper needs to stop giving this kid publicity. He is a publicity wh….. (Jerry Brown’s favorite word).

  11. lovethemountains says:

    Semaj’s mother couldn’t control this kid even if she wanted or tried. She could control him only by chaining him to an immovable object in the house, at which time she would be arrested.

    This kid will, as many here have said, graduate on to much more serious (probably deadly) crimes in the near future. The only way to protect society from him and protect him from himself would be to lock him up. In this country we do not do that.

  12. cclngthr says:

    The kid makes his own choices. You can try to make them stop, but the only way to do that effectively would be tying the kid down and shock them if they move (which can’t happen.

  13. Beowulf50 says:

    Just as bad as those three kids from So. Seattle. How much are good people to put up with from these urban animals?? Next it will be guns.

  14. No surprises here. This liberal state’s goal is to keep every child with their biological parent, no matter how crappy the parent is. I remember reading his mother’s reaction during one of his earlier court escapades when it was suggested he not return to her home. She said “I could lose my kid?” Clearly she didn’t lose him, or probably any of her other FIVE fatherless children (probably more by now) so it’s plain that she has the system worked as well. She knows she doesn’t have to be a better mother.

  15. How about some consequences for mom? Put ALL of her kids in foster care and stop her welfare payments. Maybe she’ll straighten up.

  16. cclngthr says:

    The only way to place consequences on the parent is to effectively charge the parent with abuse/neglect each and every time the child is charged with a crime, and to remove all children from the home, adopt them out and permanently sterilize the parents.

    The welfare system should require recipients to work and if they have more kids, force them to be sterilized and attend parenting courses for the duration of the welfare term.

  17. MargueriteC1973 says:


    Dear Judge John McCarthy;

    Would you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE lock this child up??? He obviously has not learned one darn thing from his past appearances in your court. Just hours before his adventure to Texas, he was placed on emergency placement in the same foster home as my son. After he was given a bath, fed & dresed in warm, dry clothing, he proceeded to go through my son’s things steal some of the items he had just received for Christmas & then attempted to steal the foster parent’s car. What did the state & your court do about that??? NOTHING, that’s what!!! Well I can tell you your honor that if it were ME that were coming in front of you, you would not let ANYTHING slide, so why brush it all under the rug when it comes to Semaj??? WHERE is God’s name is his mother & WHY are you NOT holding her acountable for her underage son’s actions as well???

    It’s a sad day when a child is continued to be returned to their parent who ovbviously has NO CONTROL over them at all.

    Why don’t you try hooking him up with the “Friends & Servants” program through the juvenile courts & YMCA??? This program sure did wonders for my family..Don’t believe me??? Take a look at the YMCA’s magazine that they put out to the funder’s, it’s available at their offices in James Center.


  18. cclngthr — that sounds totally harsh, but completely effective and I think we need to start looking that direction. Maybe if assistance wasn’t so “comfortable” people wouldn’t languish as long.

    Talk about effort free. They don’t even have to go down to the welfare office to pick up their checks anymore, or go to the food bank and carry their free food home. Their checks are direct deposited and their food cards are reloaded electronically. Sheesh.

  19. Kevindot1 says:

    Yeah, throw this kid and his mother in jail. I said this 3 or 4 years ago and I will say it again now, this kid’s mother has got to be the worst mother on the face of this earth who is raising a real menace to society.

  20. DAKOTANATIVE says:

    Another product of single parents.

  21. cclngthr says:

    It is harsh, but if we have people on welfare for generations, we need to stop the circular cycle where the children of welfare recipients will learn not to work and get on welfare. People now are encouraged by the system to have more kids so they can receive higher benefits. Forcing the child limitation while on welfare should happen. As long as the person is on welfare, the person should refrain from having any more children, and all welfare recipients, regardless of program should be required to attend parenting classes, budgeting classes, be required to work 8 hours a day 5 days a week in order to get that money. In addition to the money, the program should audit each recipients spending habits and see exactly what they are spending the money on. Mandatory drug testing also is necessary. Any controlled substance, including pot must be tested for and any positive results mean the children are removed and the persons be permanently barred for life from receiving any benefits.

    I do think charging parents is necessary when kids get in trouble, but at the same time, giving parents the legal right to discipline their kid as necessary. If the kid is suspected of using drugs, that parent can legally take that child to be drug tested and order involuntary drug treatment against the wishes of the child. Same with all medical issues. As it stands now, children 13 and older have full legal sayso in their healthcare and the parent does not have to be notified. It should be the parent must be directly involved in ANY healthcare decison involving any minor. If the child wants birth control, the parents first must be formally informed and face to face consent must be obtained in order to allow that to happen. If the child refuses to take required medication, the parent can force the child to take that medication.

  22. The begining of the next Maurice Clemens

  23. JODILUDWIG says:

    October 19, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Another product of single parents

    You sir are an IDIOT. I am a successful single parent and have been for many years. My child will be 18 very soon and is an upstanding citizen. The way this child is has absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact he is being raised my a single parent! Has everything to do with the TYPE of parenting. Get it straight!

  24. banksyfan says:

    cclngthr, I was with you all up until the birth control. I undoubtedly believe that if teens are required to tell their parents about needing birth control in order to get it, you will have many many more pregnant teenagers in this world. I was lucky to have an open enough relationship with my mom to be comfortable to talk about needing it at 17 but I am pretty confident that I was in the minority in that respect. I definitely would rather have teenagers secretly going to Planned Parenthood instead of more pregnant irresponsible kids. And as for this Semaj kid, take away from the parent what matters most to her…her welfare check. She should put in jail just for naming this kid Semaj.

  25. northwestrealtor says:

    The parent or parents are to blame for the actions of this little punk juvenile delinquent and future criminal. Face it, you’re not doing your job as a parent! The reason this kid is doing the things he is doing is simply because he is looking for attention, nothing more. He knows he can get away with his antics without severe repercussions. The mother or whomever is parenting this kid needs to lay down the law…… and do it NOW, not later!! The punishment he has received for his actions so far has not been nearly severe enough and should have started at the first incident of trouble. Stop the excuses and be a parent!

  26. Swfan1969 says:

    Maybe he can share a cell with the kid from Stanwood? They can swap stories.

  27. cclngthr says:

    Birth control is a health issue, and parents have the right to know if kids are asking for it. They also should know if their kid is having sex. My mom (adoptive) would have castrated me if I even considered having sex as a teenager. As a product of a teenage pregnancy, I think teens have no authority to have sex.

    I would do away with welfare altogether. Not needed. The only people who should have the privilege of receiving help are seniors and those with true disabilities. The rest should get out of bed and work.

    The problem is we have adults who act like deliquents. How can the deliquent parent properly discipline when they are not disciplined themselves?

  28. cclngthr — I firmly believe in teens abstaining from sex. As soon as you figure out an effective way to teach that so that they actually do it I will be on board with you. Until then, I think it’s better to be realistic than idealistic.

  29. WarmNfuzziOne says:


    He’s been reformed by the system.

  30. I’ve long believed these kids need a secure setting and FIRM guidance. Having met one of the Foster parents some of the kids stayed with after the first set of escapades I can say that belief has only been reinforced. My acquaintance (rightly) gave no details about the boys except to say that often even the most unruly child can improve if given structure to grow within. It is very clear that structure is lacking in their current setting.

  31. banksyfan says:

    Should, should, should but definitely don’t. Although I did have sex at 17 I was not uneducated about it or irresponsible. They are able to make those choices so I would just they rather have the most options available to them to make them smarter choices. My mother was an OB nurse and instead of “castrating” me and “hoping” I made the right choice, she make every option available to me and taught me about safety and consequences of teen pregnancy. Done.

  32. mizzgivens says:

    Marguerite: If Semaj was in the same foster home as your son, how can you be judgmental about that? Even if it’s true that he stole from your son, and we don’t actually know that for sure, they are *both* in foster care, which means their parents were unfit to care for them.

  33. jmdarius says:

    First off…. this is a young man, as a teenager, we make mistakes, YES he has been in the scrutiny of the public eye for some time. I will tell you one thing, he is a GREAT young man if you place aside all of the issues he did when he was a little boy. Instead of calling him out and name calling, maybe all of you who have some b.s to say about him should take the time to spend with him and realize who is for yourself. He does not put on a front for anyone, he is true to himself and it shows character for a trouble young man. I have a son who is 13, and they are good friends, I heard about Semaj when he got in trouble, then you have to put the past behind because that is where it needs to be left. When Semaj joined a youth football team a few years ago, he joined the ES HARPERS ANGELS…. without pre judging him for the past issues, we as parents, team moms and coaches looked at the passion he has for the game of football. He has friends, players and parents who love him for Semaj….. our football team has embraced him and even his older brother. It is a disgrace that adults could write such horrible things about a child they have not even had the opportunity to meet… you are just reading what the media says… and for the lady who has to post that semaj stole from her son that was in foster care look hard at your parenting and know that you were in the same boat and maybe the foster parents he was with were the issue. I know his foster parents that he has had the last couple of years, OUTSTANDING and love that young man…. to have a successful man you must teach the meaning of love, life and respect. SEMAJ I LOVE YOU AND YOUR MAMA she has made a huge differance REGARDLESS OF WHAT ANYONE SAYS please believe you will always have an open door to our house as well as our hearts ……

    allowing to love someone for your own reasons, not because of what others see them as……. love one as you would want to be loved! …

  34. This boy is clearly not only bored and unhappy with his living situation and seeking attention, he is probably very smart and not being educates appropriately for his level and type of intelligence. If there isn’t some sort of intervention soon he may become a career criminal as an adult. Society will be a much better place if kids like him are properly intellectually stimulated by their educational institutions.

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