New Jersey Man Attempts to Board Commercial Flight with AR-15

With spring break approaching travelers feel threatened due to the recent airport security threats.

Many illegal weapons were found, but how many weapons are still out there?

A man named Seretse Clouden, a felon, attempted to board a flight at Newark Liberty International Airport on Dec. 30. 2022. His luggage was removed from the aircraft and officers discovered in his bags an AR-15 rifle, a .40 caliber handgun, a Taser, a spring-loaded knife, an expandable baton and a .308 caliber rifle. “During routine screening of checked luggage that was destined for Fort Lauderdale, Transportation Security Administration agents discovered two .40 caliber Glock magazines, each containing fifteen rounds of .40 caliber ammunition,” the complaint read. “A further search of that luggage revealed a ballistic vest carrier that displayed the words ‘Deputy Marshal.'”       

Not only did Seretse Clouden possess firearms and other weapons, he possessed a fake US Marshall badge. He was charged with the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000, and the charge for fraudulent possession of an identification document can carry a maximum sentence of 15 years, a fine or both.     

Clara Burgess a Lafayette senior, is shopping for bathing suits for her spring break trip to Mexico, but she is beginning to have doubts about going because of her safety in the airport.

Seretse Clouden identified as a 42-year-old originally from Bergen County was attempting to board the flight to Fort Lauderdale Florida. Seretse Clouden is a previous felon because in 2016, Clouden pleaded guilty to unlawful  possession of a weapon.

Agents responded to the gate when learning of his possessions. Clouden’s flight was scheduled to leave from after learning of what was in his luggage. He told officers he did not have law enforcement credentials or firearms ID cards.

Jaxon wright beyond excited to go on vacation in Saudi Arabia but is terrified for his safety considering the recent threats to the travelers.

“It’s absolutely not acceptable for firearms to be anywhere near checkpoints,” said R. Carter Langston, a spokesperson for TSA, in a statement to CBS News. Not only are passengers just trying to get from point A to point B, now they have to worry about their safety because of the people around them. Additionally, there are legal ways to bring a firearm or other weapons on a flight with correct locks and cases. Although Seretse was a felon so he cannot legally possess a firearm regardless. “There is a legally permissible way to bring firearms in checked baggage, but you have to be legally able to carry a firearm in your jurisdiction, declare it with the airline and pack it properly in a hard-sided and locked case.”  says R. Carter Langston, a spokesperson for TSA in a statement to CBS News.

Another TSA spokesperson told CBS News that the agency does not comment on criminal complaints as a policy and could not speak specifically to Clouden’s case.  TSA is not permitted to speak of individuals cases though parts of different TSA managements have presented some small pieces of the puzzle about the case.

It is still unclear of Clouden’s intentions with the weapons and firearms although with his forged ID for the US Marshalls he might have had intentions to harm government officials or destroy government property.

Not only is it highly illegal to possess a fraudulent ID the felon possessed “United States Marshal” badge and U.S. marshal credentials with Clouden’s name and photo, according to FBI agent Christopher Granato. The FBI agent said the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed that Clouden is not and has never been employed by the agency.

Local students are reading up on the recent airport security concern.  Can this fear travel into the schools?

Last year, the Transportation Security Administration seized a record 6,542 guns at airports around the country. Most people who are stopped for having a gun at an airport checkpoint say they forgot they had the weapon with them. Although, it is unclear his intentions, An attorney listed in court records as representing Clouden did not immediately respond when emailed for comment. A U.S. magistrate signed an order Monday placing Clouden in federal custody and said Clouden and prosecutors want more time to negotiate a plea agreement.

Being caught with a gun at the airport will likely result in a Class 3 misdemeanor charge, it is still a severe legal matter. You could face jail time and a fine. Even worse, you would have a permanent criminal record. Anything further, such as threatening with said weapon, or pointing the weapon at a fellow traveler, airport employee, or TSA employee could result in a felony along with jail time and a fine.

Not only is this whole experience scary for everyone involved it’s scary because many things potentially could have gone way worse.