The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Police major found with loaded gun at checkpoint

He was allowed to continue his trip after the incident.

- By David Aaro

An Atlanta police major was found with a loaded handgun at Hartsfield-jackson Internatio­nal Airport on Monday, authoritie­s said.

Michael O’connor, who has been with the department for more than 24 years, was hit with a weapons violation offense after officers found a Glock 45 in his carry-on luggage at a security checkpoint, according to an incident report. The gun was filled with 18 rounds of 9mm ammunition, including one in the chamber.

Atlanta police responded to the South checkpoint, where they were told a weapon was found on a conveyor belt. TSA officers said a man had placed his book bag on the belt and a black handgun was found in the front pocket.

O’connor was identified as the gun owner and taken to the airport precinct. After authoritie­s determined the gun wasn’t stolen and the major wasn’t a threat, he was allowed to go on his trip, police said. No one was injured during the incident. The report stated that the firearm was recovered, without elaboratin­g.

Since joining the department in 1996, O’connor rose up the ranks from patrolman to major in 2017. He was the ground commander during protests at the CNN Center following George Floyd’s death in May 2020 and was previously assigned to the department’s homeland security unit, police said.

The TSA said it immediatel­y informs law enforcemen­t when the image of a firearm displays on an X-ray screen. The agency can impose a civil penalty of up to $14,950 per violation against the traveler, in additional to potential criminal citations.

In 2022, TSA officials discovered 448 firearms at Hartsfield-jackson, the most in the U.S. Dallas Fort Worth Internatio­nal Airport was second with 385. The agency said one firearm was detected for every 116,394 people screened at airports across the country.

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