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Man's gun on Phoenix-bound flight goes undetected

Associated Press
Oct. 24, 2001 10:30:00

NEW ORLEANS - A man carried a loaded gun through security checkpoints at the New Orleans airport Tuesday and boarded a Southwest Airlines flight before turning the weapon over to a flight attendant.

FBI spokesman Ed Hall said the man did not realize he had the derringer inside his briefcase until the Boeing 737 had left for Phoenix.

The FBI questioned the man in Phoenix, but he was not charged because he had no intent to commit a crime, Hall said.

"We interviewed him. We checked his history and determined it was innocent, poor judgment," the FBI spokesman said.

It was not clear why a security agent did not spot the pistol when it went through the X-ray machine.

A security worker has been fired in connection with the incident, said Southwest representative Whitney Brewer.

Officials at the company that provides security at the airport, International Total Services, did not immediately return calls.

Hall would not identify the man, but Phoenix police said he was a businessman from Mississippi. Hall said the man told a flight attendant, "I've done something wrong" and handed over the gun.

Hall said the flight attendant gave it to the pilot, who locked it in the cockpit. It was returned to the man in Phoenix.

Roy Williams, director of aviation at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, said airport officials would meet with the Federal Aviation Administration about the incident.

"The airport will be working with Southwest Airlines and the FAA to find ways to improve the process," Williams said. "We're very serious about security and continue to investigate the situation."


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