New Jersey

TSA: Georgia Man Arrested at Newark Airport After Getting Caught With Stolen Handgun

Nationwide, the detection of firearms at TSA checkpoints has increased this year, although the number of travelers decreased

TSA

Transportation Security Administration officers prevented a Georgia man from carrying a loaded stolen handgun onto his flight at Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday, the agency said.

According to the TSA, a gun and ammunition were packed inside a carry-on bag when a TSA officer staffing the checkpoint X-ray monitor spotted them. The TSA agent then alerted Port Authority Police.

When the traveler realized that one of his carry-on bags had triggered an alarm and was going to be opened and inspected, he allegedly departed the checkpoint with his other carry-on items, and left the bag with the gun that triggered the alarm behind.

Allegedly, as he headed to his gate, police arrived and confiscated the gun and ammunition.

A TSA supervisor and lead officer saw that the traveler left the checkpoint without the bag that triggered the alarm and followed him closely to make sure he did not make contact with another passenger or that the other carry-on items he possessed were not handed off or left somewhere in the terminal, the agency said.

Police eventually returned the man to the checkpoint, where he was ultimately arrested. Officials ran a background check on the individual and the firearm and allegedly discovered that the gun was reported stolen in Georgia and that the traveler had "an extensive criminal record." 

"This individual knew he had a loaded gun with him and realized that he would be questioned by police, so he tried to distance himself from the carry-on bag and its contents by walking away,” said Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey. “It turns out that the man has an extensive criminal record and the gun was reported as having been stolen.”

Nationwide, the detection of firearms at TSA checkpoints has increased this year, although the number of travelers decreased. According to the agency, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019 due to the pandemic. Overall, twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83% were found to be loaded.

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