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Updated 12/06/12 – 8:15 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – State Sen. Donne Trotter on Thursday evening said he’ll stay in the race for the 2nd Congressional District, even though he faces charges he tried to bring a handgun through a security checkpoint at O’Hare International Airport.
Trotter was arrested at O’Hare on Wednesday, after TSA agents found a Beretta handgun and a clip loaded with live ammunition in a garment bag as he was trying to pass through security on his way to board a flight to Washington, D.C.
The 62-year-old state senator was charged with a felony count of attempting to board an aircraft with a weapon, and during a hearing on Thursday, a judge set his bond at $25,000. He was released from custody after posting the required 10 percent bail, or $2,500.
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A relaxed-looking Trotter declined to address the details of the circumstances of his arrest, but conceded his experience was “a little overwhelming, certainly unexpected.”
“Nothing like being re-routed on a trip that you were trying to go to learn more about the process,” the Chicago Democrat told reporters outside his home. “I had several meetings scheduled in Washington, D.C.”
To that end, Trotter said he wants to continue his bid for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s former congressional seat so that he can help constituents do better economically.
“I do intend on staying in the race at this time, and I’m going to continue to campaign for the people in the 2nd Congressional District,” Trotter said.
As a condition of his release Thursday, Trotter was also required to surrender any other firearms he owns, but his attorney did not indicate if he owns any other guns.
Police said Trotter told officers he uses the .25 caliber handgun for his job with Allpoints Security and Detective, Inc. He said he’d been working the late shift the night before, and had forgotten the gun was in his bag when he went to O’Hare for a trip to D.C.
According to Chicago police, the gun was not registered with the city, as required by ordinance, though Trotter has a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification card. He’s also licensed to carry a weapon while working his security job, and for no more than an hour while traveling to and from work, but the license does not allow him to carry the gun on a plane.
Earlier Thursday, Trotter declined to talk with reporters, leaving that task to his attorney, Joshua Herman. Herman said Trotter was looking forward to getting home to his wife and four children.
“We’re going to let this play out. No comment about the facts right now,” Herman said.
Trotter corrected Herman when he said, “it’s been a long day.”
“Two days,” Trotter said.
Thursday night, the lawmaker praised law-enforcement officials for the way they treated him during his experience.
“It was very professional. So, I have to give the kudos to individuals who were just doing their job,” he said.
Last week, Trotter had said he plans to run in the special election in the 2nd Congressional District, to replace Jackson, who resigned last month due to ongoing medical and legal problems.
He was due back in court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.