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Deputies discover gun in luggage

Published Sep. 2, 2005

An Ohio man was arrested at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport on Saturday after authorities said they discovered a gun in his briefcase.

Gary D. Pugh, 64, of Columbus, was arrested on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon into a secured airport area, said Marianne Pasha, spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

A sheriff's deputy saw a .380-caliber automatic in Pugh's briefcase as it traveled through an X-ray machine, Pasha said. When the deputy asked Pugh whether he had a weapon, he said no, Pasha said.

But the deputy opened the briefcase and found the gun, Pasha said. It had six rounds in the magazine and none in the chamber, Pasha said.

Pugh was "extremely surprised and embarrassed" by the discovery, Pasha said. He told the deputy that he had not realized the gun was in his briefcase.

He said he was an interstate trucker before retiring recently, and had long carried a gun. Pugh said he had traveled to Florida to drop off a truck and was flying back to Ohio.

Pugh was taken to the Pinellas County Jail shortly after his arrest at 2:20 p.m.

Authorities continue to investigate, Pasha said.

In 2001, Barry Brunstein, of Valrico, carried a loaded .380-caliber handgun in his briefcase aboard flights from Tampa International Airport to Atlanta and on to Memphis, where a security guard discovered the weapon.

Brunstein, a former Boy Scout leader and federal agent, told authorities that he simply had forgotten about the gun.

Later, a federal judge in Memphis sentenced him to two years of probation and fined him $5,000.

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