FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Authorities say that a 65-year-old woman was taken into custody Wednesday after carrying a gun on to an American Airlines plane at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
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.
Security screeners detected a handgun in the 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.
Soule said he didn't know if the gun, a .38-caliber revolver, was loaded. He said that when TSA screeners spot a gun in a bag, they are supposed to seize the bag and notify police.
It was not clear how authorities tracked down the woman's flight. It was about an hour and 40 minutes later that she was taken into custody by DFW Airport police, Soule said.
Airport officials declined to talk about the incident but issued a brief written statement saying that the woman 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.
People who bring a gun to an airport checkpoint are subject to civil penalties. It's up to local law enforcement agencies to decide whether to lodge criminal charges, according to the TSA.
American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said the woman was removed from Flight 2385, scheduled to fly to Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. The flight was delayed for just over an hour and other passengers were screened again before the plane took off, he said.
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, is used for international flights and some domestic flights.
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 85- and 88-year-old women to show them 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.