Contraband at the courthouse: Lipstick knife, meat mallet, secret stun guns seized
SAN ANTONIO —
Deputies stop hundreds of items – some of them deadly, others bizarre – from getting into Bexar County courtrooms each week. They estimate 10 to 15 people have been arrested trying to get weapons past security so far this year.
Deputy Chief Harry Jimenez of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office showed us some of the items seized just in the past week and a half, including five steak knives, 25 forks, 27 spoons, four metal hair combs, half a dozen handcuff keys and more than 50 pairs of scissors.
More sinister weapons were also confiscated at the five doors leading into the old Bexar County Courthouse, the Paul Elizondo Tower and the Cadena-Reeves Justice Center: 28 sets of brass knuckles, four stun guns, five fake or BB guns (including one that concealed pepper spray), batons and even a meat mallet.
“It worries me because every day, we go through thousands of packages, we have tens of thousands of people visiting the courthouse,” Jimenez said, “and we want to maintain this as a safe space.”
Jimenez, who oversees courthouse security, said he’s proud of his deputies and civilian monitors for stopping so many weapons from getting beyond the door. They’ll be receiving more training soon to keep up with the latest threats.
Deputies shared photos of three weapons caught by screeners checking the X-ray monitors within the past three months: a gun, a set of brass knuckles and a dagger concealed inside a cane. All three people are now facing charges.
Dozens of knives of all types have also been seized. A handful were disguised as keys, three were hidden inside bullets, but most were more common pocket knives or butterfly knives.
More benign items were also collected and stored, like Sharpies that could be used for graffiti, nail grooming items and combination locks.
“We don’t throw anybody in jail for those items, but we take them away,” Jimenez said, adding that people are often given the option to return the items to the car.
Some choose to surrender the contraband.
A number of handmade weapons have also been recovered recently, including a blade taped to a wooden shaft and a chain attached to a piece of metal and a lock.
Many of the items are concealed or disguised, including a flash light that doubles as a stun gun and a knife hidden inside a lipstick container.
“It’s a delicate balance between searching and finding these items and keeping those lines moving, allowing regular business to take place,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez said all the items are destroyed every week or so. He urged people to think twice about what they’re carrying before heading into Bexar County courthouses.