Conway pastor releases statement after gun reportedly found in bag at airport

A longtime Conway pastor released a statement through his attorney Saturday afternoon after he was arrested Thursday in connection with TSA agents reportedly discovering a gun in his bag at Myrtle Beach International Airport.

Phillip Miles, 66, Conway resident and pastor of Christ Community Church, was arrested Thursday and released from the J. Reuben Long Detention Center after his attorney said he accidentally left a gun in a bag he was taking to a religious conference in Kentucky.

Miles said the following through his attorney:

“First, I want to apologize to the TSA, any passengers who may have been inconvenienced, the staff at the Myrtle Beach airport and to my community for a terrible mistake on my part when I accidentally brought an unloaded pistol to the airport. Like many, I was in a rush and did not check all of my luggage to ensure I did not have anything that could not be brought on an airplane,” said Miles in the statement.

“My wife and I were traveling to a religious conference in Kentucky and I completely forgot the gun was in my bag. I fully cooperated with TSA and they were very professional during their search and subsequent questions.”

An Horry County police report obtained by WPDE says an unloaded .380 caliber semi automatic firearm was found in a bag claimed by Miles that did not contain any ammunition.

Miles was booked into the J. Reuben Long Detention Center Thursday and charged with carrying a weapon in a restricted place, online records show, which also reflect he was released hours later on $500 bond.

David Aylor, Miles’ attorney told The Sun News that Miles was very compliant with authorities. Miles later did make it to the religious conference he was originally trying to travel to before his arrest, Aylor said.

“He’s a hard worker, and he’s just going back to what his responsibilities are. ... he feels awful that it happened, but it literally was just a slip of the mind,” said Aylor, who also stated Miles didn’t want the incident to reflect badly on the church or anyone there.

Aylor also said the gun is owned legally.

In 2008, Miles was jailed for several months overseas in Russia on charges of bringing ammunition into the country during a missionary trip. Saturday, Aylor spoke about that incident, and said he was bringing the ammunition to a friend and pastor, and that the ammunition was legal in the U.S.