NBA legend Bill Russell was detained and cited on Wednesday for carrying a loaded gun in his carry-on luggage at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Federal and airport officials made the announced on Saturday.
According to a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) report, Russell was carrying the.38 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun in his carry-on bag when it was discovered by an airport employee. Russell was flying to Boston at the time of the discovery.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport spokesman Perry Cooper revealed that Russell “handled himself fine. Usually what occurs in these situations is that the subject says that they didn’t realize it was in the bag. Typically that’s what happens when you have these discovered at a checkpoint.”
An airport spokesman identified the 79-year-old National Basketball Association (NBA) Hall of Famer in a recorded message. Russell lives in the Seattle area.
According to Seattle police the gun contained six rounds. TSA officials contacted Port of Seattle police who arrived to cite Russell with carrying a weapon in a prohibited area, a station violation. The weapon was confiscated and Bill Russell was sent on his way.
In order to carry a weapon it must be unloaded and place in a carry-on baggage. The weapon must be stored in a hard-sided container and that container must be locked.
While Russell has been out of the spotlight for many years, he is among one of the NBA’s greatest players. Playing for the Boston Celtics in the 1950s and 1960s, he was named as NBA most valuable player five times. Later he would serve as coach of the Seattle Seahawks in the 1970s.
It is not uncommon for TSA officials to find loaded weapons inside a passengers belongings. Typically the gun is confiscated, a passenger is cited, and a fine is paid. However, the results of finding a loaded gun vary from state-to-state. The TSA can choose to press federal charges and jail time could be served, however, Bill Russell had a permit and was cooperative which will likely help swing the situation in his favor.
Bill Russell has not commented on his actions or the confiscation of his load weapon at this time.
Do you think carrying a loaded weapon inside an airport should has resulted in a bigger penalty for Bill Russell?