A man reportedly fled John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York after a loaded handgun was discovered in his carry-on bag.
TSA officers at the scene identified the firearm as a 9mm handgun that was loaded with seven bullets based on the depiction shown on the security checkpoint’s X-ray machine.
The man, who is said to be a Brooklyn resident, was asked to step aside but fled when called. He ran from the terminal and may have gotten into a taxi to make his escape, according to authorities.
Police confiscated the man’s pull-handle carry-on bag along with a duffle bag he abandoned at the scene.
His travel companions were reportedly interviewed by officials before they were allowed to board their flight to Atlanta.
Law enforcement have been able to identify the man due to him leaving behind his New York State learner’s permit, his passport and boarding pass. The man also left his shoes, vest and some cash.
Pictured here is a window view of John F. Kennedy International Airport’s control tower. On Dec. 28, 2020, a man fled the airport when a handgun was found in his carry-on bag. (Transportation Security Administration)
"Fleeing the checkpoint does this man no good," JFK airport’s TSA federal security director, John Bambury, said in a press statement. "It was foolish of him to run. We know who he is and he now faces a stiff financial federal civil penalty."
According to the TSA, first-time offenders caught carrying a loaded firearm into a security checkpoint face a $4,100 civil penalty. The penalty can go as high as $13,000. Civil penalties apply to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits.
Travelers are allowed to transport firearms and ammunition in checked baggage so long as the weapons are unloaded (and kept separate from ammo), packed in a lockable hard-sided case and are declared at the check-in counter, according to current TSA guidelines.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. In New York City, a city license is required to own a handgun while a city-issued permit is required to own a rifle or shotgun, which are issued by the NYPD License Division.
In 2019, the TSA discovered 4,432 firearms in carry-on bags throughout the U.S. That number is roughly 5% higher than what the agency discovered in 2018.
The TSA previously issued a news release in August that stated the agency was detecting more firearms at security checkpoints despite having fewer passengers to screen due to the coronavirus pandemic.