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Hearing today for state senator accused of trying to board plane with gun

Published: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 9:35 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — A bond hearing will be held today for state Sen. Donne Trotter, who was arrested at O’Hare International Airport for allegedly trying to board a plane with an unloaded handgun and a clip with six bullets.

Trotter, a Chicago Democrat who is seeking the congressional seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr., is charged with a Class 4 felony. He was taken into custody Wednesday morning and held in jail overnight.

A Chicago police officer responded to a call of a handgun that showed on an X-ray machine at Checkpoint No. 2 in Terminal 1 around 7 a.m. Wednesday, police said. When police and an agent from the Transportation Security Administration realized the bag belonged to Trotter, they escorted him to a nearby room to interview him, police said.

Authorities found a .25-caliber Beretta in his garment bag, and a clip containing six live rounds in a separate side pocket, according to police, who said the gun was not loaded.

Trotter told police he worked late Tuesday night at his job as a security guard for All Points Security and packed his bag early this morning, police said. They said he told authorities he didn’t realize the gun was in the bag.

The gun is the same one he uses for work, police said. He has a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card and has a permit with the Illinois Department of Financial and Profession Regulation to work as a security guard, police said.

Trotter, 62, will spend the night in a Northwest Side police lockup before appearing for a bond hearing Thursday.

The TSA released a statement saying passengers who bring a firearm through an airport checkpoint face criminal prosecution and penalties up to $7,500. "Passengers may only transport firearms, ammunition and firearm parts in checked bags," it said. "Firearms must be unloaded, properly packed in a hard-sided container, and declared to the airline during the ticket counter check-in process."

Trotter is among more than a half-dozen announced and potential contenders for the Democratic nomination for the South Side and south suburban congressional seat that Jackson resigned from late last month. The lead state budget negotiator among state Senate Democrats, Trotter was not in Springfield during the Senate’s session today.

Trotter had been viewed as the most likely contender among the field to receive the endorsement of the Cook County Democratic Party in a slating session scheduled for Dec. 15. Trotter already received the backing of the Democratic chairmen in Thorton and Bremen townships in suburban Cook County.

In the 2nd Congressional District, which stretches from the South Side to include parts of Will and all of Kankakee counties, the bulk of the Democratic votes are cast in the Cook County suburbs.

The field of announced Democratic contenders also includes former one-term U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson of Crete, who lost to Jackson in the March primary, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields, former state Rep. Robin Kelly of Matteson, state Sen.-elect Napoleon Harris of Flossmoor and disgraced former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds.

Tribune reporters Monique Garcia and Annie Sweeney contributed.

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