By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press Writer
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A Transportation Security Administration worker noticed what looked like the outline of handgun when a 10-year-old boy's brown teddy bear passed through the X-ray machine last week at the Orlando International Airport.
When the bear was opened, TSA workers found a loaded .22-caliber gun inside. The boy's family, who live in a Columbus, Ohio, suburb, told investigators that the teddy bear was given to their son by a girl at their hotel during their Orlando vacation.
Now the FBI is investigating how the gun got in the teddy bear, and the TSA is using the case as an example of why it searches even the most innocent-seeming objects and people.
"This incident ... underscores the need to screen everyone and everything no matter how innocent the people or their belongings may appear," Robert Johnson, a TSA spokesman in Washington, said Thursday.
The boy, Chase Dodd, two siblings and his parents, Robert and Angela Barry, were passing through the checkpoint to catch a return flight to Grove City, Ohio, last Saturday when the teddy bear (pictured, above) aroused suspicions. An Orlando police officer found a half-inch hole in the bottom of the teddy bear and discovered the firearm after ripping a larger hole.
The Barrys were questioned by FBI agents and then released after telling the agents that their son received the teddy bear from a 10-to-14-year-old girl at their hotel two days before. Chase turned 10 on Monday.
"She appeared at their hotel room door and offered them the bear," Johnson said. "The mother said it was OK and so the boy took it."
The Barrys appeared "very calm" while they were being interviewed, according to the police report.
Reached at her home Thursday in suburban Columbus, Angela Barry said she didn't want to talk about what happened until the FBI investigation was finished.
"I want every way possible for them to find out who did this," she said.
The FBI didn't return phone calls.