SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal officials have taken over the case of a Montana man alleged to have tried to carry four loaded handguns onto a commercial flight departing Sacramento International Airport.
The U.S. attorney in Sacramento charged Harold Waller, 45, with trying to board a commercial flight with concealed weapons.
An FBI affidavit released Monday said Waller told investigators he had no intent to harm anyone when he tried to bring four guns onto a flight to Phoenix. In an interview with The Associated Press, his mother said the 45-year-old divorced father of two is suffering from mental illness
"I don't understand it. Nobody who was thinking properly would do what he did," Helen Waller said. She said her son was driven from the family farm near Circle, Mont., and to Sacramento for treatment of depression several weeks ago.
His mother said Waller sought treatment at a Sacramento clinic that specializes in detoxification because he discovered that he is allergic to the anti-depression medication prescribed to him. He also visited a nutritionist there. His mother said the treatment worked well for two years.
According to the FBI, a fidgety and sweaty Waller approached a US Airways ticket counter Thursday afternoon and asked for a ticket to any destination in Alaska. He was given a ticket to Anchorage with a change over in Phoenix.
Waller told the FBI he intended to "spend a few days" in Alaska. Waller was arrested after he was found with a loaded 9 mm handgun in a shoulder holster and a loaded handgun in each of the three carry-on bags at the security checkpoint. The FBI said he gave investigators permission to search his car parked in a nearby lot, where they discovered "numerous additional loaded guns, including two assault rifles and a high volume of ammunition."
Waller's initial appearance in federal court Monday was brief and he didn't enter a plea. He was ordered to return to court Thursday to discuss bail and identify his lawyer. He is currently being held in jail without bail.
Helen Waller said she hired an attorney Monday morning because she refused to allow her son to be represented by a public defender.
She did not know why her son was attempting to catch a US Airways flight.
"I am thankful that nobody got hurt," she said. "I am hoping it will bring more awareness to individuals that there are more people than they would guess that have a mental disorder."
Volz reported from Helena, Mont.
By PAUL ELIAS and MATT VOLZ