The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Official won't face weapon charge

Clovis’ Paul Nelson was found with a gun in his bag at airport.


October 8, 2017

A Dallas grand jury last month declined to indict a Clovis city employee on a weapons charge from this summer.

Clovis’ Information Technology Director Paul Nelson was arrested on a work-related trip June 11 after a Transportation Security Administration employee at Love Field Airport found a loaded semi-automatic .380 caliber handgun inside Nelson's backpack at the main security checkpoint, according to records from the Dallas Police Department obtained last week by The Eastern New Mexico News.

“Nelson stated he forgot that the weapon was in the backpack,” the report read. “Nelson did not have a current concealed handgun license.”

The gun was placed into a property room and Nelson was transported to Dallas County Jail, from which he was released over 12 hours later, Nelson said on Thursday.

Nelson said he is not back in possession of the handgun seized this summer and was waiting for adjudication on his weapons charge to finish before updating his license.

The grand jury in Dallas County returned a no-bill vote Sept. 5 on “place weapons prohibited” charges for Nelson and about a dozen others throughout the year.

“It happens at times. It just kind of depends on the facts of the case and everything,” said Nelson's attorney, Dallas-based Kevin Harris. “There are times when those cases proceed and times when they don’t.”

Harris said Friday that no further court dates are planned and the grand jury’s decision last month amounted to the case being dropped.

Nelson said he has been a gun owner his “whole adult life” but never had any issues like forgetting his gun in a carry-on bag before.

“Once is too many,” he said.

Nelson is still in his job at the city, and City Manager Justin Howalt declined Thursday to discuss any action from city administration on the topic, citing “personnel matters.”

Nelson said he flew from Clovis to Dallas on the trip but declined to say if he had his gun with him when he passed through the Clovis airport.


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