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Bill Russell releases statement regarding handgun citation at Seattle airport

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff  October 20, 2013 08:02 AM

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Hall of Fame Celtics center Bill Russell issued a statement Saturday accepting responsibility for the Wednesday incident in which he was arrested at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after Transportation Security Administration officials found a loaded gun in his luggage.

“Before boarding my flight from Seattle to Boston, I had accidentally left a legal firearm in my bag. I apologize and truly regret the mistake,” he said. “I was issued a citation by the TSA, whose agents couldn’t have been more thorough and professional when dealing with this. I really appreciate their efforts to keep air travel safe.”

Russell was arrested as he attempted to go through security. Airport spokesman Perry Cooper confirmed Friday night that Russell was cited for having a weapon in a prohibited area. The gun was confiscated and he was released. Russell’s gun was a .38-caliber pistol and was loaded with six rounds, according to a TSA spokesman.

Russell was turned over to Port of Seattle police and there were no disruptions at the airport. The 79-year-old has lived in the Seattle area for decades.

He was an 11-time NBA champion with Boston and coached the Seattle SuperSonics from 1973-77.

Russell will be honored with a statue at Boston's City Hall Plaza that is scheduled to be unveiled at 2 p.m. on Nov. 1.

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