Separate gun parts that could have been used to assemble a loaded weapon have been found inside stuffed animals at a Rhode Island airport on Tuesday, though authorities believe that a "domestic dispute" was behind the incident.
The gun parts were found inside a few stuffed toys, including a Mickey Mouse, at Rhode Island's T.F. Green Airport after an X-ray machine used for regular screenings detected the parts, The Associated Press has reported. The toys were inside a child's carry-on bag, and included a teddy bear and a rabbit. A .40-caliber gun was found inside one animal, while a second animal contained a magazine loaded with two .40-caliber rounds and a firing pin. The slide of the gun was stuffed inside a third toy.
The 4-year-old boy whom the toys belonged to, and his father, whose names were not given, were questioned by police, though the man has claimed he did not know the parts were inside the toys, authorities revealed.
"It appears to be the result of a domestic dispute," explained Rhode Island Airport Police Chief Leo Messier. "It was jointly investigated by the RI Airport Police, FBI and the RI State Police and it was determined that there was no threat at any time to air safety."
The boy and the father were later allowed to continue onto their journey to Detroit. The Transportation Security Administration has declined to comment further, but has confirmed that the incident remains under investigation.
Some passengers have pointed to the incident as an example that sometimes, airports' strict security procedures can indeed be necessary.
"I just can't imagine anybody letting him continue on his trip without getting answers to the questions: What was he thinking? Why was he doing that?" said one unidentified passenger to WHDH.
"And for the officials to sit back and say, 'Could he have posed a danger?' And if he could, why are we letting him move on to potentially do it again?" he added.