Loaded gun found in man’s wheelchair cushion at East Tennessee airport

(Courtesy: Blount County Sheriff's Office via WATE)

ALCOA, Tenn. (WATE) – A passenger was arrested Tuesday at the McGhee Tyson Airport in Blount County after a loaded gun was found hidden inside his wheelchair cushion.

The Smith and Wesson .40 caliber pistol was found by TSA agents around 10:30 a.m. Robert Rowe, 34, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a weapon.

Robert Rowe (Courtesy: Blount County Sheriff’s Office via WATE)

TSA agents said they moved him to a regular chair so they could clear him and the wheelchair separately. TSA removed the wheelchair padding and sent it through the X-ray scanner, which showed what appeared to be a handgun.

Airport police say the gun was hidden under a gel like padding inside the seat cushion. Rowe said he didn’t know anything about the gun or that it was in his wheelchair.

TSA officials say while firearms may be carried in checked luggage if they are declared to the airline, in a proper carrying case, and unloaded, guns are not allowed in carry-on bags.

This is the 15th firearm discovered at McGhee Tyson Airport this year. A total of 16 were found there last year.