Former state House speaker charged with having gun at Atlanta airport



ATLANTA — A former speaker of the Georgia House faces charges of having a gun at a security checkpoint in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, court records show.

Former state Rep. Terry Coleman, of Eastman, was apprehended Wednesday by police after a Transportation Security Administration officer spotted what appeared to be a pistol inside his briefcase. Atlanta’s WSB-TV reported that police found a .22-caliber handgun.

WSB-TV aired video of Coleman appearing before a judge Thursday with his ankles shackled. His attorney, Robert Quinn, told the judge this was Coleman’s first arrest.

Coleman, 69, was charged with carrying a weapon in an unauthorized location, according to Clayton County court records. He was released later Thursday.

In a statement Friday evening, Quinn said Coleman was using an old piece of luggage because his regular briefcase was recently stolen. Coleman told TSA officials that he owns a Derringer but did not realize the gun was in the briefcase in his rush to the airport, Quinn said.

“I greatly appreciate the hard work, vigilance and professionalism of the Atlanta Airport Police, Atlanta Airport staff, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office and the Transportation Security Administration, and apologize for the trouble caused by my own oversight,” Coleman said in a statement.

Every year, dozens of passengers are apprehended when mistakenly carrying weapons through Atlanta’s airport. TSA officials say about 100 handguns were confiscated in 2012.

Coleman served more than 30 years in the Georgia House.



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