‘American Idol’ winner Scotty McCreery cited for trying to carry loaded gun through airport checkpoint

Season 10 “American Idol” winner and Garner native Scotty McCreery was cited last week for trying to carry a loaded gun through a passenger checkpoint at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, authorities reported.

McCreery, 23, told RDU police that he had gone to a firing range before arriving at the airport and forgot to remove the weapon – a black, 9 mm, Smith and Wesson handgun – from his backpack. Investigators found five 9 mm rounds in the handgun’s magazine and two boxes of ammo that contained 63 bullets in the backpack, according to an incident report made public by RDU police.

McCreery has a permit to carry a concealed handgun, but he was cited for a misdemeanor violation when he tried to bring the firearm through an airport checkpoint and board a plane with it, authorities reported.

In a statement to People Magazine, McCreery said, “I have been a concealed carry permit holder for awhile now after being robbed at gunpoint in 2014, and I take gun safety very seriously. While in-between tour dates last week, I went to go target shooting with a friend a few days before an early flight out of my hometown Raleigh-Durham airport.”

“Unfortunately, I did not realize that I left my pistol in my backpack until the TSA found it during the security X-ray screening and rightly confiscated it. I had my concealed carry permit on me so once they had checked everything out, they then released me to catch the next available flight. Great to know our airport security force is on the job. I have learned a lesson that I won’t forget,” McCreery told the magazine Friday.

Police stopped the country singer on July 13 at 6 p.m. after the weapon was viewed on an X-ray screen by a Transportation Security Administration employee. The handgun was inside the middle compartment of McCreery’s backpack, the TSA employee reported.

It was nearly a year ago, in late June, when McCreery sat on the front row in a Wake County courtroom where a judge sentenced a man to at least 17 years in prison for a 2014 home invasion that left McCreery staring down the barrel of a pistol.

Mikkail Jamal Shaw, 21, apologized to McCreery and his friends before Judge Paul Ridgeway handed down the sentence.

In a 2014 interview with The News & Observer, McCreery described how after that robbery, he got an enhanced security system at his house and developed a “higher level of alert” in general. He said then he was not particularly worried about security when on the tour bus with his crew.

“My bus would not be the bus to rob,” he said, laughing, in the 2014 interview. “I’ve got guys that are always equipped to make stuff happen. And one of the guys is like a black belt in every martial arts you can think of.”

He also discussed the robbery in his 2016 book, “Go Big or Go Home.” He said four men with guns barged into a Raleigh apartment where McCreery and others were watching the movie “Gladiator” at about 2 a.m. McCreery said the robbers did not recognize him in his T-shirt, shorts and N.C. State cap.

“Maybe I’m just looking a bit too normal for them to think anything about me,” he wrote. “Maybe they’ve been too busy being thugs to keep track of Season 10 of ‘American Idol.’ ”

TSA officials were not available for comment Friday afternoon.

McCreery was scheduled to perform in Biloxi, Miss., on Friday night and could not be reached for comment.

Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @thommcdonald