Police at Indianapolis International Airport detained a Nevada Army National Guard soldier for about three hours today after baggage inspectors found dozens of machine gun bullets and other live ammunition in his check-through luggage, an airport spokeswoman said.
Pvt. Patrick Christopher Mahler, 24, of Las Vegas, was turned over to a National Guard investigator at Camp Atterbury, Ind., where he had been training for deployment to Afghanistan with about 700 soldiers from Nevada’s 1st Squadron, 221st Cavalry, said Susan Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Airport Authority.
Mahler was trying to catch a plane to Las Vegas while on leave before the deployment and told investigators he had taken the ammunition without the knowledge of superiors and because he thought “it was cool,” Sullivan said, referring to a quote by Mahler in an airport police report.
No charges were filed against Mahler, she said. He had been held at the airport for about three hours after the ammunition was discovered about 1:30 p.m. today, Sullivan said.
Mahler “didn’t attempt to enter a secure area with ammunition,” Sullivan said today. Instead, the ammunition was discovered by screeners for the Transportation Security Administration in a nonpublic area of the airport.
She said TSA inspectors found 136 rounds of .762-caliber ammunition; seven .50-caliber rounds; three .233-caliber rifle bullets; and one 40 mm training grenade.
Nevada National Guard officials deferred comment to a spokeswoman at Camp Atterbury. Maj. Lisa Kopczynski, an Indiana National Guard spokeswoman at Camp Atterbury, also said no charges had been filed Friday against Mahler. Kopczynski said Mahler was “in a safe and secure environment” at the National Guard training camp near Columbus, Ind.
Personnel from Camp Atterbury had recovered the ammunition, Kopczynski said. This was the second time in three months that a member of the U.S. military tried to travel on an airline with luggage containing live ammunition.
A Marine on a flight from Las Vegas bound for Charlotte, N.C., was arrested April 19 at Boston’s Logan International Airport after a 9 mm gun, several hundred rounds of machine gun ammunition and bomb-making materials were found in his bags during a layover there.
The Marine, Cpl. Justin W. Reed, of Jacksonville, N.C., pleaded not guilty to charges of smuggling a semiautomatic handgun and prohibited items on the US Airways flight.
Contact reporter Keith Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0308.