Sheriff: Charges Coming Against Balloon Family
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden indicated Saturday that criminal charges probably will be filed against one or both of the parents whose 6-year-old son was said to be aboard a wayward balloon.
Alderden spoke to a gathering of reporters to announce "significant progress" in the investigation after a second round of interviews with the family.
The sheriff indicated the likely charges are misdemeanors and no one in the family will be arrested.
Alderden said, given the seriousness of the incident, he is consulting with the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies regarding potential federal charges.
Earlier Saturday, the boy's father emerged from his home for what he promised reporters would be a "big announcement."
Richard Heene later asked reporters to give him their questions in a cardboard box.
Heene did field one question from a reporter who asked him to clarify - once and for all - whether the balloon incident was a hoax.
"Absolutely no hoax, I want your questions in the box," Heene replied, and returned to his home, placing the box on his front porch.
The "announcement" drew boos and jeers from the throng of reporters.
Prior to the news conference, two apparent protestors were seen on the street in front of the house. One had a sign that read: "Put Balloon Boy on TV: America's Most Wanted." The other had a sign that said: "10/15/09 We will never forget."
After the news conference, Eloise Campanella, a spokeswoman for the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, said investigators met with Heene to discuss the incident.
The Heene family is at the center of the saga after news crews from around the globe and law enforcement from around the state believed 6-year-old Falcon Heene was flying across the state in the wayward, helium-filled, saucer-shaped balloon. The boy turned up hours later hiding in the family's attic above their garage.
Comments made by Falcon during a CNN interview stoked the idea the family could have been planning the balloon incident as a hoax to get attention.
"You said we did this for a show," Falcon said to his parents during the interview, after his father asked why he didn't come down from the attic earlier.