Routine search at LAX vehicle checkpoint turns up guns, ammo

Jan. 12, 2009
16 guns, 1,000 bullets found in truck at LAX

A routine vehicle search by Los Angeles Airport Police ended with the nonroutine discovery of 16 guns and roughly 1,000 bullets stowed in the bed of a pickup truck late Friday morning.

The driver, Phillip Joseph Dominguez, 47, of Orange, was booked on suspicion of transportation of weapons and held in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to the LAPD.

Authorities said that there was no indication the man intended to cause harm at the terminal, but investigators said they were still trying to sort out exactly what he was doing there.

The weapons cache comprised 10 handguns, five rifles, one antique black-powder musket and nearly 1,000 rounds of ammunition. At least one handgun was loaded, as was the musket, and one of the rifles was an assault rifle, said Sgt. Jim Holcomb of the Airport Police Station.

The firearms were found inside several boxes in the back of a gray Chevrolet Silverado, said Nancy Castles, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles World Airports.

"We frequently do discover guns and narcotics," Holcomb said. But "the number of weapons was unusual."

Initially, police estimated that the boxes contained 30 handguns. They discovered only 10, however, when they opened the boxes.

Dominguez was stopped shortly before 11 a.m. for a random vehicle inspection at Century and Sepulveda boulevards, at the main entrance to the lower level of the airport, Castles said.

Typically, officers will ask drivers if they can search their vehicles and if they are carrying any weapons inside, Holcomb said.

The Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted in the investigation.

"While much more must be learned, this incident demonstrates why security measures at LAX are so critical," said Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice).


Times staff writer Dan Weikel contributed to this report.

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