What started out to be just a typical day at Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) became something entirely different for TSA Officer Ryan Perreault.
Perreault was walking through the airport parking lot when he detected a sweet, pungent odor coming from a nearby parked car. Investigating, he noticed one of the car front windows was partially down.
Looking into the driver’s side of the car, he noticed a strange white mask hanging from the front passenger seat headrest – not the surgical one, but a plastic one meant to cover an entire face. Further scanning the front seat, he saw a handgun and a loaded magazine.
“I thought it was incredibly irresponsible to leave a gun out on the seat with the window down,” said Perreault. “It just seemed reckless.”
When Perreault reported for his shift, he saw Deputy Mitch Block from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office at his airport security podium. Perreault walked over and briefed Block of his parking lot discovery and then reported the information to on duty Supervisory TSA Officer Joselito Diaz.
In the meantime, Block radioed to the Palm Beach Security team in charge of parking security to further investigate. After finding the car, the security team ran its license plates and identified the owner. Further investigation revealed the firearm was stolen.
The car’s owner was found and arrested.
For his actions, Perreault was nominated by airport TSA Manager Joseph Aiuto for the PBI Outstanding Incident Response Award.
“This was a great example of ‘If you see something, say something,’” said Aiuto. “TSA Officer Perreault was aware of his surroundings and was able to catch and prevent something from going very wrong in or out of the airport. I acknowledge him for his professionalism and dedication. Great response!”
At the monthly Palm Beach International Airport Security/Stakeholder meeting, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Detective Ken Smith presented Perreault with the Crime Stopper Award for championing “if you see something, say something” and getting a stolen firearm off the street.
Captain Kenneth Voiret, District Commander for PBI, also commented on Perreault’s actions.
“It was because of Perreault’s observations and willingness to speak up and report that a stolen firearm was recovered and an arrest was made,” said Voiret. “I can think of a few scenarios that could have happened if this went unreported.”
“We are extremely proud of Perreault’s actions,” said TSA Federal Security Director Pete Garcia. “Most of us are routinely distracted by our cell phone and unaware of our surroundings. It’s refreshing to see someone with keen domain awareness and the intestinal fortitude to do what’s right. Ryan’s quick action took a dangerous weapon off the streets of Palm Beach County. Well done.”
PBI leadership awarded Perreault a Certificate of Commendation and a time-off award for his actions.
By Wayne Carey, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs