WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) – First on wwlp.com: West Springfield police arrested a woman at the “Big E” on Saturday for having a gun on the grounds.
Chief Ronald Campurciani told the 22News I-Team 41 year old Gabrielle Emerson of Keene, New Hampshire told a police officer that she had lost her purse and that there was a gun in it. That purse was found and returned to security. Emerson was then arrested for illegally carrying a firearm.
Emerson spent the weekend in jail and was in Springfield District Court Monday afternoon. She was held without bond pending a mental health evaluation. The judge asked 22News not to show the video of Emerson due to this pending evaluation.
In addition to the “Big E’s” security, West Springfield police have uniformed and plain-clothed officers on the grounds. Campurciani told 22News that security checks have found guns in the past, but this gun was found in a small purse, and not a large bag.
“I’m not worried so much that from this incident that we’re going to have guns rampant during the Big E, on certain nights and times that we’ve had problems in the past we’ve added security down there and security measures,” said Chief Campurciani.
The Eastern States Exposition is private property, and during the fair, the “Big E” does not allow patrons to carry guns.
Chief Campurciani told 22News that he didn’t know if Emerson is legally licensed in New Hampshire, but she is not licensed to carry a firearm in Massachusetts.
Eastern States Exposition Operations Director Gerard Kiernan told 22News they spoke with their bag checkers on Monday to reinforce and remind them to be vigilent. They reminded them to look through all bags, regardless of size. He says police aren’t legally allowed to search bags, so bag checkers have to do it. He says “The Big E” will be adding signage on Tuesday to make it more clear what you can and cannot bring into the fair. He added nothing is more important than public safety.