AP Airlines Writer
POSTED: 5:46 a.m. HST, Jan 19, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 6:28 a.m. HST, Jan 19, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas >>A 65-year-old lawyer was arrested Wednesday for carrying a loaded handgun aboard an American Airlines jet at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Judith Kenney was released later Wednesday on her own recognizance, said her attorney, Dallas lawyer David Finn.
Kenney carries a handgun for protection but had forgotten that it was in a computer bag she carried on board the plane, he said. She has no criminal history, he said.
Screeners at a security checkpoint had detected a gun in a woman’s carry-on bag but she “picked up the bag and left the checkpoint before the screening process was over,” said Greg Soule, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, which operates the checkpoints. When TSA screeners spot a gun in a bag, they are supposed to seize the bag and notify police, he said.
Officials got a photo of Kenney from a closed-circuit video system and showed it to airport employees. She was taken into custody by DFW Airport police about an hour and 40 minutes later, Soule said.
An airline spokesman said Wednesday that the plane was headed for the runway when it returned to the gate and was met by airport police.
Kenney was removed from Flight 2385, scheduled to fly to Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport. The flight, with 128 passengers, was delayed for just over an hour and passengers were screened again before the plane took off, American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said.
Airport officials said that Kenney would be charged with carrying a gun into a place where weapons are prohibited, a third-degree felony in Texas and punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
About 10 other flights were also delayed up to 25 minutes after the TSA closed DFW’s Terminal D, Smith said. The terminal, one of five at the airport, is used for both domestic and international flights.
Kenney is “absolutely mortified, embarrassed,” Finn said. “She feels terrible for putting the pilot and passengers through all that.”
The incident comes amid heightened criticism of TSA.
A soldier arrested on Dec. 31 at the Midland, Texas, airport with C4 explosives in his bag said he probably carried the bomb material on a flight from North Carolina to Texas. Screeners delayed him after finding and confiscating a smoke grenade but let him on that first flight.
In other cases, screeners have been overzealous. TSA Administrator John Pistole said in letters made public this week that screeners at New York’s Kennedy Airport violated procedures this fall by asking an 85-year-old woman and an 88-year-old woman to reveal medical devices concealed under their clothes. The women said they felt as if they had been strip-searched.
Screeners in Las Vegas were criticized this month for confiscating a traveler’s frosted cupcake.