Typically, in a book bag, you find reading materials—a journal for notes, highlighters for memorable quotes, and maybe a pen and a bookmark. But the book bag that passed through a Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) X-ray contained some “loaded” reading materials.
TSA Officer Crystal Wakefield was working as the X-ray operator at ATL’s lower north checkpoint when she noticed a dark mass in what appeared to be a book bag/backpack.
“It was unbelievable,” exclaimed Wakefield. “I looked several times to make sure I was seeing a real threat.”
Wakefield immediately engaged her network and called for her supervisor, Lead TSA Officer Marquita Burkett.
As the two officers reviewed the challenging image, they discovered the mass was not only books but two semi-automatic handguns stacked on each other.
“I was really proud of my officers and how she was able to engage her network,” praised Burkett.
Once the officers confirmed the image was a firearm, Burkett immediately notified Supervisory TSA Officer Leonard Taylor. Taylor then notified the Atlanta Police Department of the discovery that the weapons were loaded.
“It shocked me,” said Taylor. “In the 20 years I’ve been here, I have never seen that many guns in a bag at one time.”
A relieved Wakefield said, “Once we confirmed they were firearms, I was relieved we caught it.”
Acting TSA Manager William Terrell emphasized, “Getting caught with a firearm at an airport checkpoint carries a civil fine. People must double check themselves before leaving home.”
TSA Manager Romesha Daniel commended Wakefield’s catch, saying, “TSA Officer Wakefield did an outstanding job using all of her keys to focus on the image. Her expertise as a certified X-ray operator has demonstrated to her peers how using all keys will help identify any threatening item in a passenger’s bag.”
Daniel added, “ATL is known for pilot programs using different equipment and X-ray machines, and TSO Wakefield is currently certified on four different X-ray machines.”
“I was amazed at the way TSA Officer Wakefield handled herself and how calm she stayed,” said Taylor. “She followed all of the procedures.”
This was the first time ATL officers have reported two loaded firearms in one bag.