It was a busy afternoon at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) as TSO Spilios Kiamos operated the X-ray in August. Everything looked fine until the next bag showed on the screen. His heart skipped a beat.
“My first thought was, we don’t get TIPS on this side [X-ray equipment],” recalled Kiamos.
He noticed an image that appeared to be a firearm with six rounds of ammunition in the magazine and a seventh in the chamber. He halted the X-ray and rotated the image. He was certain that he was seeing a gun.
“Once I turned the image I could count the bullets [in the magazine],” said Kiamos. “With this new technology you can see much more.”
Kiamos visually scanned his immediate area for any irregularities and checked for resources [his supervisor], who took a look and immediately notified the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) police.
NFTA police took possession of the weapon, questioned the passenger and escorted him from the checkpoint in handcuffs.
It was later determined by the police that the weapon – a Glock Model 19 9 mm caliber handgun – was stolen and the passenger identified as a 1st degree robbery parolee. He was charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon (2nd and 3rd degree) and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property (4th degree) – all felonies.
“The actions of Officer Kiamos are very commendable in his identifying a weapon in the performance of his duties,” said FSD Bart R. Johnson. “Officer Kiamos’ actions not only prevented a deadly weapon from getting on a plane, his actions – and the subsequent notification of law enforcement – also prevented a felon from getting on the plane with a stolen and loaded handgun.”
By Wayne Carey and Lisa Farbstein, Strategic Communications & Public Affairs