A former Southwest Airlines baggage handler is heading to prison after federal officials say he stole five guns from luggage traveling through a Missouri airport.
Mark Hunter, of St. Louis, was sentenced to six months in federal prison and three years of supervised release, according to a Nov. 30 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Missouri.
Hunter had earlier pleaded guilty to “knowingly possessing or receiving one or more firearms that he knew to be stolen,” the news release said.
The defense attorney representing Hunter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
An investigation began on Sept. 25, 2020, when the Manchester Police Department seized a gun that had been reported stolen by a passenger who had traveled through St. Louis Lambert International Airport, officials say. The Southwest Airlines passenger had said his pistol was taken from his luggage.
Officials say they then identified seven reports of guns stolen out of checked luggage traveling though Lambert Airport on Southwest Airlines flights between March 28, 2020 to Aug. 22, 2020.
“Records indicated that Hunter was working and had access to baggage from which other guns had been reported stolen,” according to the news release. “Hunter was approached by agents and admitted to the theft of five firearms from checked luggage he handled in his capacity as a Southwest Airlines baggage handler at St. Louis Lambert Airport.”
After Hunter was charged, he submitted seven letters to the judge of his case from family, friends and his pastor. They expressed he is a good man who made a mistake.
“I was shocked and disappointed in the criminal activity for which he committed and for which he has been charged,” said Senior Pastor Willie R. McMiller, Sr. of River of Life Christian Ministries. “I can attest that this was a singular act and not representative of his character that we have grown to know. He has expressed to me his extreme sorrow for this transgression and considers it a true lapse in judgment that would never be repeated.”
Hunters’ mother, Clarissa Colvin, said her son is a “great young man with a huge heart.”
“I know with all my heart that this was an isolated incident; Mark is remorseful and can see the ramification of a bad decision,” she wrote.