A contract baggage handler at Portland International Airport caught stealing firearms from the checked luggage of airline passengers pleaded guilty this week to five counts of possessing stolen firearms.
Deshawn Antonio Kelly, 27, is a Portland resident who was employed as a contract baggage handler at PDX. Over four weeks last summer, from Aug. 19 to Sept. 17, Kelly stole six firearms.
His haul included three 9mm pistols, two .40 caliber pistols, and a single .45 caliber pistol, all from separate checked bags.
Court records show the Port of Portland Police was first notified that an H&K .45 caliber handgun belonging to Brian Wong was missing from the baggage he had checked at PDX on Aug. 29. Wong only realized the bag which contained the firearm was missing when he reached his destination of North Carolina.
He contacted the authorities again on Sept. 2, saying that he had received the bag, but that his gun, ammo, and knife were still missing.
Port Detective Chad Steenvoorden was notified Aug. 30 that a Glock 26 handgun belonging to Christopher Nichols, who was travelling to Phoenix from Portland, had been stolen on Aug. 19, 2018.
Steenvoorden began investigating matters by planting bait bags and sending them through security. On Sept. 11, 2018, Steenvoorden surmised that it was likely Kelly who was responsible for the thefts and began to surveil him.
Kelly was arrested on Sept. 25 at the airport. Search warrants were issued for his person, vehicle, and residence. He reportedly told investigators where the stolen firearms were located when asked.
Kelly could face a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years' supervised release. He will face sentencing on July 29, 2019.
Why steal guns from the airport? One possible motive: Kelly couldn't buy any.
In the affidavit, Shawn Overstreet, a Deputy District Attorney for Multnomah County, wrote, "I know that Kelly has been previously convicted of a Felony in the state of Oregon and is not permitted to possess, own, or be in custody or control over any firearm."
Kelly pleaded guilty on Wednesday, April 3.