17-year-old New Jersey youth arrested by police after TSA catches him with loaded handgun at Philadelphia International Airport checkpoint

Local Press Release
Friday, June 12, 2020
TSA officers detected this loaded handgun in a 17-year-old’s carry-on bag at Philadelphia International Airport on June 11. (TSA Photo)

PHILADELPHIA – A 17-year-old New Jersey resident was arrested by police after Transportation Security Administration officers at Philadelphia International Airport detected a 9 mm handgun loaded with 11 bullets, including one in the chamber, in his carry-on bag on Thursday, June 11.  

The gun was spotted by a TSA officer when it appeared on the checkpoint X-ray monitor. It was located in a book bag. TSA contacted the Philadelphia Police, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the firearm and detained the young man, a resident of Newark, N.J., for questioning before arresting him on a weapons violation. The minor was traveling with his parents and his father accompanied him to the police station.

The youth told officials that he took the book bag from his ex-girlfriend’s car and said he did not realize that the gun was in the bag.

“This detection demonstrates the commitment and mission focus of our dedicated officers on ensuring the safety of the flying public even during the most challenging of times,” TSA Philadelphia Federal Security Director Gerardo J. Spero said.

When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. Guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.

Guns caught at checkpoints at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) 2016 to 2020







(as of 6-11-20)

Guns caught at PHL checkpoints






 Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline check-in counter. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.

As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed firearm permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes in their carry-on bags. If an individual is a TSA Pre✓® member, that person could even lose TSA Pre✓® status. In addition, TSA has the authority to assess financial civil penalties for weapons violations.   The complete list of penalties is posted online.

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.