Woman Removed From Plane After Bringing Gun Aboard

By Salon Staff

Published January 18, 2012 10:54PM (EST)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Authorities say that a 65-year-old woman was taken into custody Wednesday after carrying a loaded handgun on an American Airlines plane at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

An airline spokesman said Wednesday that the plane was headed for the runway when it returned to the gate and was met by airport police.

Screeners at a security checkpoint had detected a gun in the woman's carry-on bag, but she "picked up the bag and left the checkpoint before the screening process was over," said Greg Soule, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, which operates the checkpoints.

Soule said that when TSA screeners spot a gun in a bag, they are supposed to seize the bag and notify police.

Officials got a photo of the woman from a closed-circuit video system and showed it to airport employees until they tracked her down. It was about an hour and 40 minutes later that she was taken into custody by DFW Airport police, Soule said.

Airport officials declined to identify the woman but said that she would be charged with carrying a gun into a place where weapons are prohibited, a third-degree felony in Texas and punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said the woman was removed from Flight 2385, scheduled to fly to Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. The flight, with 128 passengers, was delayed for just over an hour and passengers were screened again before the plane took off, he said.

About 10 other flights were also delayed up to 25 minutes after the TSA closed DFW's Terminal D, Smith said. The terminal, one of five at the airport, is used for both domestic and international flights.

The incident comes amid heightened criticism of TSA.

A soldier arrested on Dec. 31 at the Midland, Texas, airport with C4 explosives in his bag said he probably carried the bomb material on a flight from North Carolina to Texas. Screeners delayed him after finding and confiscating a smoke grenade but let him on that first flight.

In other cases, screeners have been overzealous. TSA Administrator John Pistole said in letters made public this week that screeners at New York's Kennedy Airport violated procedures this fall by asking an 85-year-old woman and an 88-year-old woman to reveal medical devices concealed under their clothes. The women said they felt as if they had been strip-searched.

Screeners in Las Vegas were criticized this month for confiscating a traveler's frosted cupcake.

Salon Staff

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