Women finds gun in rental car while checking out of Kiawah Island resort


Two women who rented a car and stayed at a resort on Kiawah Island found a gun in the trunk Saturday when they were checking out, according to an incident report from the Charleston police department. 

Liz Ribeiro arrived in the area with a friend on Thursday and rented a car. She said they put their luggage in the backseat unaware that the handgun was in the trunk.

"It was really scary. We were driving around with it for a couple of days and had no idea," she said.

In fact, it wasn't until around 6 p.m. Saturday when they were leaving the Sanctuary Inn Resort on Kiawah Island with the help of employees who were loading luggage into their Nissan Sentra rental car from AVIS, the report stated. 

She said a valet loaded the bags into the trunk and either didn't see the gun or saw it and assumed it belonged to them. Ribeiro recalled remembering that she left her sunglasses in her suitcase and went to the trunk to retrieve them. That's when she noticed the gun, a P345 .45 caliber handgun, in the trunk.

"I looked down and thought, 'Is that a gun?'" she said. She immediately snapped photos and reached out to a friend in Illinois who is a law enforcement officer to figure out what to do with the gun. "I'm not going to give the gun to a security officer: this needs to go to a real police officer."

Unsure where to turn, they drove to the Charleston Police Department downtown where two officers took the gun from the trunk of the car.

Police say the gun contained a magazine with eight rounds inside. The gun's holster had a compartment that contained a magazine with eight rounds, the report states. 

"I'm so glad I didn't have my kids with me," she said. "Everything was going through my head. What if it was loaded? What if it discharged?"

Ribeiro says it was her first visit to the Charleston area and she said she met some very nice people during her stay.

"About 50 percent of the people I told about it said they would have kept the gun or offered to buy it," she said.

But the discovery in the trunk of the rental vehicle ended up taking a chunk of time from the end of her stay and left her with lingering questions.

"That's not like leaving a hairbrush behind," she said. "I'm a person who's going to do the right thing, but the way that society is today, it's very unsettling that it wouldn't have been caught."

She said police told her the gun had not been reported stolen.

"So for the days it was in the car, whoever owns it didn't notice it was missing," she said. 

The car rental company said they have an internal security team reviewing the situation as well, Ribeiro said.

A request for comment from the rental car company was not immediately returned.

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