Man arrested at O'Hare with knives and stun gun

Monday, November 5, 2001

CHICAGO (AP) -- Seven security workers at O'Hare International Airport have been fired for letting a man who was carrying knives, a stun gun and Mace in his carry-on luggage pass through a security checkpoint.

Subash Gurung, 27, of Chicago was charged with unlawful use of a weapon and attempting to board an aircraft with weapons after he was arrested just prior to boarding a United Airlines flight to Omaha, Neb., on Saturday night, said police spokesman Thomas Donegan. Both charges are misdemeanors.

Gurung had made it past the security checkpoint at O'Hare, but airline employees in the gate area searched his carry-on bag and found the seven knives, the Taser gun and a can of Mace, Donegan said. He didn't know why Gurung was headed to Omaha.

The seven security workers, including one supervisor, were fired Sunday for failing to detain Gurung after two folding knives were discovered in his pocket when he passed through a metal detector. The seven other knives and the stun gun were not noticed by the security staff when Gurung's bag went through an X-ray machine, according to Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Monique Bond.

"Something obviously went seriously wrong here, and we're trying to find out if it's the employees' fault," Bond said. "If weapons were confiscated, he should never have been let through security."

United spokesman Joe Hopkins wouldn't say why Gurung was searched at the boarding gate but said it was part of the airline's regular security procedures.

"The United employees did a great job of intercepting this guy with the weapons and preventing him from boarding the flight," Hopkins said.

The fired workers worked for Atlanta-based Argenbright Security Inc., which operates the screening operations at United's terminal. Officials said the Federal Aviation Administration and the Aviation Department are both investigating the incident.

Last month, the FAA and the Transportation Department's inspector general announced an audit of the screeners employed by Argenbright, which operates at 14 airports. Officials alleged Argenbright has failed to adequately check employees' backgrounds.

Gurung was questioned by police and the FBI and released early Sunday.

Chicago police and FBI officials conferred about Gurung's arrest, but decided he couldn't be charged with a federal crime because he didn't board an airplane, said police spokesman David Bayless.

Gurung, who told police he is unemployed and is originally from Nepal, is to appear in court Dec. 19.

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