Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pilot arrested for loaded gun in his carry-on luggage at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (KSTL)

Statement Regarding Pilot Arrest for Firearm at STL Checkpoint

Posted on November 15, 2017 in Media Releases

(Nov. 15, 2017- St. Louis)  St. Louis Lambert International Airport police arrested a 51 year old airline pilot Wednesday morning for unlawful use of a weapon after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers discovered a loaded 9mm pistol in his carry-on luggage. The pilot, a First Officer who works for Southwest Airlines, was detained shortly before 5 a.m. in the Terminal 2 checkpoint prior to him boarding his aircraft, Southwest flight, #1106 from St. Louis to Las Vegas.

The suspect did not have any conceal and carry permit or any other authorization to carry a firearm. Charges are pending and will be handled through St. Louis County. 

Original article can be found here ➤

The Transportation Security Administration said this Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol was discovered in the carry-on bag of a Southwest Airlines pilot on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. The gun was loaded; it had seven rounds of ammunition in it. The magazine was in the pistol when it was discovered and removed by police for this photograph, said TSA spokesman Mark Howell.

A pilot for Southwest Airlines was arrested at St. Louis Lambert International Airport for having a loaded 9mm pistol in his carry-on luggage, officials said Wednesday.

The 51-year-old male pilot was detained at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at about 4:45 a.m. Wednesday. His name wasn’t released.

The Smith & Wesson M&P pistol had seven rounds of ammunition in it, said Mark Howell of the Transportation Security Administration.

The pilot was detained in the Terminal 2 checkpoint before he was to board flight 1106, from St. Louis to Las Vegas, according to Jeff Lea, a Lambert spokesman. It wasn’t immediately clear if the man, a first officer, was a crew member on that flight or was simply flying as a passenger to a next stop.

Lea said the pilot did not have any permit to carry a concealed weapon or any authorization to carry the firearm. Federal rules require anyone who wants to travel with a firearm to make sure the weapon is unloaded and kept in checked luggage. The firearm owner also has to notify the airline.

The pilot was arrested on suspicion of unlawful use of a weapon. Charges are pending. The case will be turned over to St. Louis County prosecutors for consideration of charges.

In an email, Southwest Airlines said, “We are aware of a situation involving a Southwest Pilot at St. Louis Airport. We are currently working alongside the appropriate authorities to gather more information. We have no further information to share at this time.”

The flight was scheduled to leave St. Louis at 5:15 a.m. Online flight records show it left about 45 minutes late.

After the pistol was discovered at the checkpoint, the Transportation Security Administration employees called police and had police take the pilot and the gun away. TSA agents don’t handle weapons. “We don’t want it to go off in the middle of a busy checkpoint,” said Howell, the TSA spokesman.

Howell said he’s not sure what the pilot’s reason was for having a gun in his carry-on bag. “Just the same as everybody else, regardless if an airport employee or a passenger caught with it, 99.99 percent of the time they say, ‘Oops, I forgot it was in my bag.’”

While it’s “rare” for crew members to be arrested for trying to take weapons onto planes, Howell said, the TSA has been finding more and more firearms in bags in St. Louis and nationally.

“It’s continuing to go up, year over year,” he said.

This was the 46th weapon discovered at a security checkpoint in St. Louis this year. Last year, 31 were found.

Nationally, the TSA agents found 3,391 firearms at security checkpoints last year, and so far in 2017 have found 3,733.

TSA requires someone carrying a firearm on a plane to have it unloaded and stored in a locked, hard-sided container in checked baggage. In addition, the owner of the firearm must declare the firearm and any ammunition to the airline when checking the bag at the ticket counter. Federal law defines a loaded firearm as having a live round of ammunition in the chamber or in a magazine that is in the firearm.

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