A Central Florida mother of two is demanding changes at a local car dealership after she discovered a loaded handgun in the center console of the dealership’s loaner vehicle.
Tracey Humphries of Lakeland dropped off her Mercedes for service Friday morning at Fields Motorcars, a local Mercedes-Benz dealership. They provided her with a loaner vehicle for the day, like every other time.
But later that morning, Humphries opened the center console to charge her phone and couldn’t believe what she saw.
“I actually ran my finger on the holster and said, ‘Is that a gun?’” she said.
Based on the two pictures she snapped, gun experts at the Lakeland Police Department said it’s a Bersa .380 caliber semi-automatic gun with an extended magazine. The expert said the gun appears to be loaded.
Humphries couldn’t help but think about what could have happened, especially if her curious 11- and 13-year-old boys found it before she did.
“It could have very well ended up in his book bag, going to camp or school. Or at 3 a.m., I hear a gun go off in my house that I never knew was in there,” she said.
Representatives at Field Motorcars have not returned multiple calls for comment.
Customers at General Manager Gary Gordon told her that policies would change and they may consider putting signs in cars banning guns.
Other dealerships in Lakeland said the standard rule of thumb in the industry is a thorough check of all loaner cars before and after they go out.
Obviously, that did not happen in this case.
“Just think if a child would have gotten in that car with her mother and found that gun first,” said Sgt. Gary Gross with the Lakeland Police Department.
Gross said no one reported the incident to them, but they wish someone did so they could make sure the gun was handled properly.
Lakeland police said to consider it a warning next time you hop in a rental or loaner car, since more people are getting concealed weapons permits.
“I think people are going to be more apt to carry a gun, leave it under a seat, in the glove box. There’s a good chance we’ll see more of this,” he said.
Humphries, who gets nervous just looking at a gun, can’t stop pondering those what-if scenarios.
She hopes it’s a wake-up call to everyone using loaner vehicles, and maybe a reminder for anyone carrying a gun.
“This could happen to anyone,” she said.