Fort Lauderdale airport worker charged with hiding weapon, ammo inside terminal
Fort Lauderdale FL May 30 2019
A Fort Lauderdale airport janitor was arrested Saturday after hiding a gun and ammunition in a secure terminal area, police say.
The gun, a 9mm Ruger, was stashed in a trash bag, which was stuffed above a ceiling tile in Terminal 3, along with a blue zip-up handbag, according to a federal affidavit. Also in the trash bag: Two pistol magazines — one loaded with 17 rounds of ammunition — a box with 33 rounds of ammunition, and a blue Sunshine Cleaning Systems hat.
Federal agents charged Mikenson Regis, 27, of Pompano Beach with entering the aircraft or airport area in violation of security requirements.
An attorney for Regis said his client wasn’t planning anything nefarious, but panicked after realizing he brought the gun to the airport during his overnight shift, in luggage he had with him for a morning flight to Haiti.
“Essentially what happened was no different than having someone go to the airport who doesn’t know he has a prohibited item in his bag,” attorney Jennito Simon said. “He panicked and thought the best thing to do was hide it and deal with it when he came back.”
Airport employees are not allowed to leave the airport once their shift starts, so Regis feared he would lose his job if he did so, Simon said.
The bag was discovered May 21 by a construction worker who had removed a ceiling tile in the Terminal 3 janitor’s closet to check on plumbing, the affidavit said. There is an access code needed to get into the closet.
Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives matched the gun’s serial number to Regis, who they discovered worked for Sunshine Cleaning, a contracted company at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The gun was purchased May 1 at a Pompano Beach pawn shop, officials said.
Regis, who was recorded arriving for work the night before carrying a similar blue zip-up handbag, flew to Haiti the morning the gun was discovered and was picked up by special agents from Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigations when he returned Saturday.
Simon said Regis realized he had the gun only when he was putting his bags away before starting work. He got through security without the gun being detected because airport employees are subject only to random searches, Simon said.
Although there was some time between his shift ending and his flight to Haiti, Regis decided his best choice was to hide it, Simon said.
“I’m not saying it’s the smart decision,” Simon said.
The affidavit says Regis knowingly circumvented Transportation Security Administration airport screening and security standards that are in place for the safety of all passengers.
The incident comes two years after a gunman opened fire in Terminal 2 at the airport, killing five. That shooter arrived by plane and had the gun in checked baggage, which he recovered after landing.
“The Broward County Aviation Department is cooperating with the Broward Sheriff’s Office as well as our federal partners on an active investigation involving a contracted airport employee,” an airport spokesman said Tuesday.
Regis is being held in Broward County Jail. A bond hearing is scheduled for Friday for Regis and a preliminary arraignment June 11.