What happened when an air marshal lost his gun at IND airport

I-Team 8

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Thousands of passengers go through Indianapolis International Airport every month, but that all came to a standstill last October. 

The Transportation Security Administration said an air marshal misplaced a weapon at the airport. The TSA declined to share much information at the time of the incident, so I-Team 8 filed a federal Freedom of Information Act request. After months of waiting, we have details about exactly what happened. 

The report reveals a federal air marshal was on the job at Indianapolis International Airport. Just before 1 p.m. Oct. 5, 2017, he realized he left his duty weapon in the toilet stall of a concourse restroom. When he went back to get it, it was gone.

I-Team 8 brought this incident to the attention of U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, a Democrat from Indianapolis. Carson sits on the House Transportation Committee and the airport is in his district. He is also a former law enforcement officer and carried a gun on duty. 

“I know for the agency I used to work for, the Indiana State Excise Police, and other agencies, misplacing your firearm in a public venue could be cause for suspension, termination or at the very least a severe write-up,” Carson said. 

The TSA would not say what happened in this case because it is a personnel matter. But, I-Team 8 spoke with a current air marshal on the phone and asked what the punishment might be. He asked we not use his name and said marshals are punished differently, even when they make the same mistakes. The marshal also said attrition, burnout and exhaustion can lead to careless errors. 

“We know that the air marshals have a very high attrition rate, they have a very high burnout rate, and many of the air marshals who have been tasked with being detailed to multiple flights within a week’s time can burn out quite quickly,” Carson said. “But, we do know that something has to be done so that this isn’t an ongoing situation.” 

The TSA told I-Team 8 in a statement:

“TSA does takes prompt and appropriate action when allegations of misconduct are substantiated.  In this instance, TSA worked with local officials and were able to recover the firearm.” 

TSA told I-Team 8 no other air marshals or TSA employees have misplaced their weapon at Indianapolis International Airport between 2007 and May 2018. 

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