SEATTLE, Wash. (CBS/AP) — Hall of Fame center Bill Russell was arrested this week at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after Transportation Security Administration officials found a loaded gun in his luggage.
Russell was arrested Wednesday night as he attempted to go through security. Airport spokesman Perry Cooper confirmed Friday night that Russell was cited for having a weapon in a prohibited area. Russell’s gun was confiscated and he was released.
Russell’s gun was a .38-caliber pistol and was loaded with six rounds, according to a TSA spokesman. He was turned over to Port of Seattle police and there were no disruptions at the airport.
Russell had a permit for the gun and was released. His background check was clear, an airport spokesman told CBS affiliate KIRO late Friday night. He was taking a flight to Boston at the time.
He issued a statement on Saturday accepting responsibility for the incident. He apologized and praised the TSA.
“Before boarding my flight from Seattle to Boston, I had accidentally left a legal firearm in my bag. I apologize and truly regret the mistake,” he said. “I was issued a citation by the TSA, whose agents couldn’t have been more thorough and professional when dealing with this. I really appreciate their efforts to keep air travel safe.”
The 79-year-old Russell has lived in the Seattle area for decades. He was an 11-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics and coached the Seattle SuperSonics from 1973-77.
On November 1, the long awaited Bill Russell statue will be unveiled on City Hall Plaza. Russell won eleven NBA championships with the Celtics.
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