Duluth man arrested after X-ray finds gun

LAWRENCEVILLE - Frequent visitors to Gwinnett's governmental hubs know the empty-your-pockets hassle of traversing the X-ray screening stations.

Occasionally, something pops up to remind visitors the step is necessary.

Sheriff's Deputies intercepted and arrested a Duluth man Thursday afternoon who tried to enter the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center with an unlicensed handgun, officials said.

Philip Appu, 51, is charged with carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a deadly weapon at a public gathering and carrying a pistol without a license, all misdemeanors. He remained in jail Friday on $4,350 bond.

Appu tried to conceal a .380 caliber pistol in a bag as he entered the courthouse, said Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Stacey Bourbonnais. A deputy spotted the gun during X-ray screening.

Appu told authorities he was attempting to visit the Clerk of Court's office and had forgotten he was carrying the weapon, Bourbonnais said.

"He denied knowing the gun was in there," she said.

Jail records show Appu has prior arrests in Gwinnett on charges of false imprisonment, battery and failure to appear. He had no carrying permit for the weapon, officials said.

His arrest isn't the first commotion caused by firearms at the courthouse, home to Gwinnett Superior Court and the county's high-profile trials.

In September last year, a 48-year-old Lawrenceville man was arrested for allegedly trying to slip a .38 revolver past security. The suspect told authorities he'd bought the gun at a pawn shop and was trying to register it.

Gun owners are required to apply for carrying permits in Probate Court at the courthouse but carrying firearms on the premises is illegal.

The most violent act in recent memory came during an evening in late July 2002, when a 31-year-old Duluth man fired at least three shots from his car into the courthouse's windows as people milled about outside. He was later arrested.

Officials said the man - who had recently filed civil suits against President George W. Bush, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and famed rapper Sean "P. Diddy" Combs - was mentally unstable.