According to Reuters, a passenger aboard a Delta flight preparing to take off from Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport found a shotgun shell in the pocket of the seat in front of him at about 6:47 a.m. Nov. 28. As a result, all passengers had to exit the plane and go through a second security check, according to a sheriff's official.
A sheriff's canine was used in an attempt to locate additional contraband, but none was found.
The flight was delayed for about an hour as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel rescreened all passengers. The flight was then cleared for Detroit, its original destination.
The passenger who found the shotgun shell was questioned and released when investigators found nothing suspicious about him, said Fran McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office.
It was not determined how the shotgun shell ended up on the plane, so the question obviously remains, how could this happen?
The fact that a shotgun shell made its way aboard a commercial airline flight may seem shocking, but when you consider the sheer volume of passengers and their carry-on items, the fact that a prohibited item passes through security on occasion should really come as no surprise. All it would take is a momentary loss of concentration by a TSA screener to miss something like a shotgun shell.
While it's possible that the passenger who brought the shotgun shell onto the plane had evil intent, it could've just as easily been overlooked by both the passenger and TSA personnel, and ended up on the plane by accident. Perhaps a passenger who unknowingly possessed the shell removed it from his carry-on and placed it in the seat pocket in front of him to avoid possible repercussions.
So what can you do to increase your safety aboard a plane?
Fortunately in this case, there was no shotgun on board from which the shell could be fired. Had there been a firearm and ammunition aboard the plane and a passenger willing to kill for his cause, nothing short of a well-trained and perfectly timed response, or an intervention by multiple passengers, would've likely prevented a tragedy reminiscent of that of Sept. 11.
While the chances of encountering a subject armed with a firearm on a plane are miniscule, a passenger having a violent psychotic episode or an argument between passengers that escalates into a physical altercation is a far less remote possibility.
If the behavior of another passenger presents a danger to you or someone you choose to protect, certain everyday items can be employed to give you the upper hand. An ink pen can be used to stab in a situation where the use of deadly force is justified. A laptop, briefcase or carry-on bag could be used to block an incoming punch or shield yourself from someone trying to stab you with a makeshift weapon. A small, rugged flashlight can also be used for defensive purposes, as well as illumination.
What tips can you think of to increase your personal safety or the safety of your loved ones when flying?