A Stanford political science professor was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport last week for having a hand grenade in his carry-on luggage.
Gary Walter Cox had come across the WW II Mk-2 grenade while cleaning out his recently deceased father’s home, where it had been used as a paperweight by the former Navy captain.
Cox was on his way back to San Jose on Tuesday when the TSA discovered the grenade. “At first, I didn’t even remember that I had it in there,” Cox told The Los Angeles Times on Saturday. “It took me quite a long while peering at the screen before I understood what it was.”
The absent-minded professor was arrested on the felony charge of possessing a destructive device in a public place and is out on $500,000 bail. However, the Times reported that Cox claims the police called him on Friday and said that they will drop the charges.
As it turns out, the grenade was still partially loaded and had the capability of doing harm. “If I’d thought about it at all, I wouldn’t have put it into my carry-on luggage,” the Stanford professor confessed. “I was surprised to hear that it had some oomph left in it.”
Five flights were delayed for over two hours, affecting 800 passengers, while the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team was called to remove the weapon and disrupt it. Cox had planned to give the paper weight/grenade to his son, who had expressed interest in it as a keepsake to remember his grandfather. “I think [my son] would’ve liked to have it, but if in fact it hadn’t been properly cleared out, then it’s probably better that he didn’t,” Cox opined.
NBC News reported that the incident is apparently not uncommon. “We continue to find inert hand grenades and other weaponry on a weekly basis,” explained a representative of the TSA. “Please keep in mind that if an item looks like a real bomb, grenade, mine, etc., it is prohibited.”