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[size=3][b]Loaded rifle goes off in Kent postal hub - Illegal package contained rifle, handgun, fireworks, ammunition, police says[/b][/size=3]
by Jeffrey M. Barker
KENT -- An illegally mailed loaded rifle on its way to Alaska discharged yesterday morning at a U.S. Postal Service distribution hub in Kent.
No one was injured by the bullet that shot through a metal shipping container. But postal workers were shaken up enough to call out the Port of Seattle Bomb Squad about 2 a.m.
``There was a lot of concern about what could be in the package,'' said Postal Service spokesman Ernie Swanson.
The bomb squad detonated the package which contained the rifle, a .45-caliber handgun, ammunition and some fireworks, according to Kent police.
The package was addressed to a man in Anchorage, Alaska. The return address was under the same name and a Carson City, Nev. address, according to a Kent police report.
``It appears it was mailed in the Puget Sound area,'' said Tom Montgomery, a spokesman for the Postal Service.
Montgomery said investigators were trying to contact the addresses on the package and determine who sent it. The sender could face federal felony charges.
Only gun dealers and law enforcement or military agents can mail weapons. Even then, they must declare the weapon and must never have it loaded.
Anyone, however, can send a gun through United Parcel Service, Montgomery said.
The fireworks were also illegally mailed.
``Anything of pyrotechnic nature can never be mailable,'' Montgomery said. ``These things are being sent on planes.''
The Postal Service facility on Russell Road in Kent handles all Priority Mail that heads in and out of Western Washington, Swanson said.