DALLAS — News 8 has uncovered a major airport security breach.
Investigators are trying to find out how bullets and a magazine from a gun made it past security screeners and onto a plane full of passengers before anyone noticed.
Fifty-three passengers and five crew members on a Southwest Airlines flight from Oklahoma City to Dallas Love Field were removed from the jet. Passengers and the plane were searched because of the Transportation Security Administration oversight.
The security slip happened Wednesday night at the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. A passenger slipped through the checkpoint with bullets and a magazine and boarded a flight.
Initially authorities didn’t know which flight he was on. They narrowed it down to one of three flights leaving Oklahoma City for Denver, Chicago and Dallas.
According to a Dallas police report, officers boarded Southwest Airlines Flight 59 and inspected seats, storage areas, restrooms and even the trash searching for contraband.
Police also called in a dog specially trained to sniff out explosives.
The TSA didn't notice the security snafu until supervisors were reviewing recordings of a checkpoint X-ray machine and realized the ammo and magazine could be on board one of the three flights.
Security aviation expert Denny Kelly says that’s a problem. "If he's got ammunition, where's the gun? And it doesn't have to be the kind of gun you buy in a gun store; it can be just a piece of metal that serves as a barrel and another thing you screw on it that serves as a chamber, like a 'zip gun,' as the gangs call it, and it can fire a bullet," he said.
Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Andrea McCauley issued this statement to News 8:
"Out of an abundance of caution, passengers on flights that had already departed were screened for connecting flights. The ammunition was removed from a passenger's bag who was connecting in Denver."
TSA critics say airport security is still flawed and inadequate in the United States.
"Security today is no safer or no better that it was on September 10," Kelly said, referring to the day before the devastating terrorist attacks in 2001.
The Denver FBI interviewed the passenger with the ammo, who said it was an accident.
Unanswered questions remain about how someone can pass through a checkpoint with a prohibited item.
It is not illegal for a passenger to bring bullets on board a plane, but they must be properly checked and you have to let the airline know about it.
The FBI said it does not plan to file charges in this case.