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Gun from passenger's bag in Atlanta airport accidentally fired

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A pistol discovered in a passenger's carry-on bag was accidentally fired inside the Atlanta airport, grazing a police officer, authorities said on Monday.

Security screeners at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spotted the .22-caliber pistol Sunday via an X-ray machine and notified Atlanta police, Transportation Security Administration spokesman Jonathan Allen said.

Authorities said the gun was loaded with five rounds of ammunition known as "snake shot," which typically is used to kill small animals. As a police officer tried to remove the rounds while pointing the weapon at a screening table, the gun was unintentionally fired, according to an incident report.

"I was grazed by a pellet fragment on the left side of my face," the officer wrote in the report.

The passenger, a 43-year-old Georgia man, was arrested on weapons charges and remained in jail early on Monday. He told police that he "travels to Florida often on business and keeps the weapon on him for protection, not to kill anyone but in an attempt to scare people off," the report said.

So far this year, TSA has discovered more than 1,100 firearms at airport security checkpoints, the agency said.

(Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton)

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