Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught a contract employee at Philadelphia International Airport with a loaded handgun as the man entered a secure door leading to the tarmac in Terminal E, on October 30.
TSA regularly conducts random inspections of individuals who need to access secure areas of the airport to perform their jobs and they are issued special access badges after undergoing a background check.
TSA’s random inspections or countermeasures are conducted in an effort to address possible insider threats. In this instance, TSA officers were testing the hands of everyone accessing the door leading to the tarmac to check for traces of explosives. The swab of the man’s hands triggered an alarm and he was informed that he needed to undergo additional screening and receive a pat-down. At that point, the man admitted that he had a 9mm handgun concealed in the waistband of his pants. It was loaded with nine bullets.
TSA officers alerted the Philadelphia Police who responded to the location, confiscated the weapon and detained the man for questioning before issuing him a citation.
“This was a very good catch on the part of our TSA team,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Proactively mitigating risks associated with insider threats is not something that most passengers are aware of, yet it is a vital behind-the-scenes part of our security mission. Fortunately, this individual had no ill intent, however this incident demonstrates a vulnerability that we work toward addressing daily.”