EAST ELMHURST, N.Y. – A Transportation Security Administration officer detected a knife artfully concealed inside the cushion of a wheelchair as he was screening a passenger at one of the airport checkpoints on Wednesday morning, Aug. 31. Travelers who use wheelchairs are required to undergo security screening as are their chairs.
As the TSA officer was physical screening the wheelchair, he detected something that seemed to be concealed inside the seat cushion of the wheelchair. A portion of the chair was removed to access the item, which turned out to be a sharp folding knife.
The man, a resident of New Haven, Connecticut, claimed that he was a fisherman and that he had misplaced his fishing knife, which somehow had found its way into the cushion of the wheelchair in such a way that it was only accessible after a portion of the chair was disassembled. Police cited the man on a state weapons charge. After a thorough screening of the man and his chair, he was permitted to catch his flight to Atlanta.
Travelers who bring weapons to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA of up to $12,000.
In early February, two individuals were detained by police at LaGuardia Airport after they were found to have artfully concealed weapons on them as they attempted to get through the TSA checkpoint to board their flight.
A male traveler was found to have a straight-edged razor concealed in the removable sole of one of his shoes. Inside the hidden compartment were the straight-edged razor and blade along with a tube of cologne. A female traveler was found to have hidden a straight razor blade inside of a ball cap that she was traveling with that same day. The blade was tucked behind the inside band of the hat near the size label.
TSA screens approximately 2 million passengers and their luggage every day for prohibited items, including weapons and explosives.