The boy went into an empty stall in the restroom and quickly emerged, saying, 'Daddy, there is a gun in here.''' TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO
By JOSÉ PATIÑO GIRONA TBO.com staff
Published: June 18, 2013
Updated: June 18, 2013 at 10:49 PM
Wesley Noland was more than a little surprised when his 9-year-old son found a loaded handgun in the restroom of an Ybor City movie theater on Sunday. He was downright shocked to find out Tuesday that the person who left it there was a Hillsborough County sheriff's detective. "He made a grave mistake," Noland said. "He took an oath to protect the public but he has breached that oath. He put kids' lives in jeopardy. It's not like you left your keys or cell phone. This is a tool of life and death." The Glock 26 9 mm handgun was the personal handgun of Sheriff's Det. Luke Hussey. The detective had gone to at Centro Ybor 20 Plaza to see the latest Superman movie, "Man of Steel,'' and accidentally left it on top of the toilet paper dispenser while on a bathroom break.
The sheriff's office said Hussey realized what he had done about 90 minutes into the movie. He ran to the restroom and, when he couldn't find his gun, talked to the theater manager, who said Tampa police had taken possession of the weapon. The sheriff's office is investigating to determine if Hussey broke department rules and will determine any punishment, spokesman Larry McKinnon said. He said sheriff's office policy is that employees have their weapons secured "no matter where they're at.'' "Our employees are human and they're going to make mistakes," McKinnon said. "It's a serious mistake. He'll have to deal with the consequences of those errors." Hussey, 38, is upset over the incident, McKinnon said, but glad no one got hurt because of his mistake. Hussey is a 13-year sheriff's office veteran, McKinnon said. The detective called the police department after finding out police had taken possession of his gun, but only an authorized firearms detective can release the gun, said police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. She said Tuesday afternoon that police are in the process of delivering the gun to the sheriff's office. The gun was found by Noland's 9-year-old son, Zane, when he went to use the restroom. Noland and Zane went together. Noland checked the stall to make certain it was unoccupied. When his son went in, he saw the gun sitting on top of the toilet paper dispenser. "Dad, there's a gun!" Zane told his father. Wesley, who was in the Marines six years, is a gun collector and holds a concealed weapons permit, took the ammunition magazine out, then called 911, he said. "This was really a dangerous situation," Noland said. "The hair on the back of my neck stood up." Noland said he's just glad no one was hurt. Five children were in the restroom when he entered; the oldest looked about 6, he said. "My immediate concern was the children, making the gun safe and calling 911 so they could handle the situation," said Noland, 48, of Tampa. Noland said he was proud of his son and how he handled the situation. Over the years, he's taught him about gun safety, he said. "I told my son we did our Superman deed for the day,'' Noland said. "We kept people from getting hurt." [email protected] (813) 259-7659 Twitter: @jpatinoTBO