Airport baggage handler accused of stealing firearms from travelers' luggage

A baggage handler in Portland, Ore., has been accused of stealing six guns from air travelers' checked luggage over a two-month period, authorities said.

Deshawn Kelly, employed by a contractor firm at Portland International Airport, was arrested Tuesday after investigators found all but one of the guns reported stolen at his home, FOX 12 Oregon reported.

Court documents show the first report of a stolen gun dates to Aug. 19, when a Glock was reported taken from a checked bag headed to Phoenix.

One victim told the station he put a lock on his luggage for his American Airlines flight to North Carolina.

He said the bag went missing and the airline found it several days later. However, the tags had been switched and the handgun he packed inside was missing.

Once police suspected Kelly of stealing the weapons, they used two luggage bags as bait to catch him.

In the first operation, police checked a bag with a replica gun inside on Sept. 11 and determined Kelly was the employee who most likely took it. Six days later, police said, they sent through another bag with a fake gun and Kelly was seen taking that bag and a passenger’s bag with a firearm inside and later putting them back.

The police bag had damaged locks and appeared as if someone had tried to pry open the locks off of the gun case.

Authorities searched Kelly’s home Tuesday and he confessed to the thefts that day. He later said he stole the weapons to provide for his son and the boy’s mother, the Oregonian reported. He said their electricity had been cut off and they were about to be evicted from their home, the paper said. 

Kelly, a convicted felon, did not work for the airport, but was employed through a third-party company, Professional Business Providers Services.

He told court staff that he had been fired from his job.

He faces multiple charges, including six counts each of first-degree theft and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

He was released with a scheduled court date of Oct. 10.