Man carries gun on New Orleans-Phoenix flight
By DOUG SIMPSON
The Associated Press
10/24/01 1:08 PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A man carried a loaded gun through security checkpoints at the New Orleans airport Tuesday and boarded a Southwest Airlines flight before turning the gun over to a flight attendant.
FBI spokesman Ed Hall said the man didn't realize he had the Derringer pistol inside his briefcase until the 737 had left New Orleans for Phoenix. The FBI questioned the man in Phoenix but was not charged because he had no intent to commit a crime, Hall said.
"We interviewed him. We checked his history and determined it was innocent, poor judgment," Hall said.
It was not clear why a security agent did not spot the gun when it went through the X-ray machine.
A security worker has been fired in connection with the incident, said Southwest spokesperson Whitney Brewer.
She said the company that provides security at the New Orleans airport, International Total Services, is in bankruptcy.
ITS officials did not immediately return calls for comment Wednesday.
Hall would not identify the man, but Phoenix police said he was a businessman from Mississippi. He said the man told a flight attendant, "I've done something wrong" when he realized he had the gun with him.
Hall said the man gave the gun to the flight attendant, who gave it to the pilot who locked it in the cockpit. It was returned to the man in Phoenix.
Roy Williams, director of aviation at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, said airport officials would meet with the Federal Aviation Administration about the incident, even though airlines are responsible for hiring security companies.
"The airport will be working with Southwest Airlines and the FAA to find ways to improve the process," Williams said. "We're very serious about security and continue to investigate the situation."
Question about MSY security - the article mentions that "the company that provides security at the New Orleans airport, International Total Services, is in bankruptcy.". Does this company supply security for all the airlines who use MSY or just for the airlines that use the same concourse as Southwest? If it's for all the airlines, who makes the decision about what security firm to use, the dominant airline at MSY or the airport itself?
Also, are there any US Airlines which actually handle their own security, or do they all contract with outside companies?