ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A passenger at Orlando International Airport tried to bring a loaded gun in a carry-on bag through a security line Tuesday, adding to the long wait times during the post-Christmas rush, Transportation Security Administration officials said.
Agents retrieved the weapon, but they had to freeze one of the lines on the west side of the airport, which began to expand past the restaurants.
“It’s hard to believe that somebody would be that careless with a gun,” said traveler Dan Lavin.
#BREAKING TSA officials at @MCO just confirmed that a person tried to bring a gun into the security line at the west end checkpoint. They did retrieve the weapon but they had to freeze one whole security lane at the airport. Lines extend past some restaurants @WFTV pic.twitter.com/f8eMfhGyAu— Sarahbeth Ackerman (@SAckermanWFTV) December 26, 2017
TSA spokeswoman Tari Koshetz said the passenger was carrying a Ruger with a separate magazine loaded with 10 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition.
TSA said the incident created a major slowdown at a very busy time.
Several officers were taken out of the checkpoint for a couple of hours to complete paperwork and make the necessary notifications, which lengthened the screening process for other travelers.
Orlando police officers were called to investigate, as is standard protocol, officials said.
Koshetz says it was the 91st weapon intercepted by TSA officers at Orlando's airport this year.
Orlando police spokeswoman Michelle Guido said the passenger has a valid Florida concealed weapons license. Federal law, however, prohibits passengers from carrying weapons through airport checkpoints. Guido says the passenger will be charged with carrying a concealed firearm in a place prohibited by law.
The passenger's name wasn't immediately released.
Travelers were asked to arrive at the airport at least three hours before their flight.
TSA officials said also had a drug catch at the same checkpoint, but did not say what type of drug. The situation was diffused quickly, officials said.
In addition to the gun and drug incidents, there was a medical call on the other side of the security line. TSA had to divert passengers over to the west end of the airport to keep things moving.
The busy travel period started Dec. 23.
AAA predicts that by the time the travel period ends on New Year's Day, more than 100 million Americans will have traveled by plane, train or car.
Traffic was picking up early at Orlando International Airport on Tuesday.
By 5:30 a.m., the security lines had about a 50-minute wait.
Many flyers said they purposely picked early flights hoping to avoid the rush.
The airport expects nearly 3 million people to pass through, making a 7 percent increase from last year.
Airport officials expect about 145,000 people to pass through Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
— Sarahbeth Ackerman (@SAckermanWFTV) December 26, 2017
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