Gun Found in Carry-On Discharges, Officer Hit in Face

Airport runwayA police officer at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia was struck in the face when a pistol that he found in a passenger’s carry-on luggage discharged.

Security screeners discovered the .22 Magnum revolver as they x-rayed a carry-on bag taken through security by 43 year old Richard Popkin, of Georgia.  Atlanta police officer NJ Phillips was notified and responded to the call to secure the firearm, which was loaded with five rounds of “snake shot,” ammunition loaded with small pellets used for killing snakes and other small animals.

As Phillips spoke with Popkin about how to clear the firearm, he unintentionally fired a shot from the revolver.  Luckily, the firearm was pointed in the relatively safe direction of a screening table; however, Phillips reported that he was grazed by a pellet fragment on the left side of his face, which left no visible injuries.

Popkin, who was arrested on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and transported to Clayton County Jail, has been released on bail.  Popkin told police that traveling to Florida on business was a normal occurrence for him and that he kept the weapon with him in order to “scare off” threats rather than to kill anyone.  The police report notes that Popkin claims he had planned on transporting the firearm in his checked luggage but removed it in order to not exceed his airline’s limit on baggage weight.

Click here for more information about how to fly with firearms on commercial airlines and be sure to check and abide by state, local and federal laws and TSA regulations while traveling.

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