Georgia woman finds gun in rental car

She spent hours trying to reach the rental car company and finally got a response two days later

ATLANTA — A gun was the last thing Marianna MacLeod expected to find in the glove box of her rental car. And yet, after a weekend trip to Tennessee, the surprise discovery was made Sunday. 

MacLeod immediately called the rental company but said she spent hours trying to reach a representative with Avis. MacLeod said her local police precinct in Atlanta was empty, so she called Monday to tell them about the gun. 

An Atlanta Police officer came out to retrieve the gun, but MacLeod said she was left with more questions than answers at that point. 

“I was so nervous because I was like, ‘What if I had a child, who opened the glove compartment? What if it was loaded? What if it went off while we were driving because we hit a bump?’” MacLeod told 11Alive. “All along, I just felt there wasn’t really a good procedure for this, with the police department or Avis. No one really knew what to do, and I was just left in limbo with a gun that wasn’t mine.”

MacLeod said she also noticed a trace of an orange sticker on the car, signaling that the vehicle had once been abandoned. She said she rented the car Wednesday from the Avis location inside the Loews Midtown Hotel on Peachtree Street. She said she returned the car Tuesday morning.

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11Alive legal analyst Darryl Cohen chalks this up as a likely mistake. He said while someone at the rental car company may be fired, they likely will not be held legally responsible and neither will whoever put the gun in the glove box.

“He or she left it in the glove compartment, and nobody looked,” Cohen said. “They’re supposed to do a thorough cleaning, and part of that cleaning is looking to see if there are any leftover items. But, perhaps they did not. I suspect whoever runs that particular franchise is going to face a little bit of embarrassment and they’re going to be dressed down because there’s no excuse for that weapon being left in the car.”

Cohen said anyone else who finds themselves in a scenario similar to MacLeod’s should not touch the weapon, because they could leave fingerprints or DNA. Cohen recommends calling the police and letting them take care of the situation because of their training. 

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MacLeod meantime wants her story to serve as a message to others to check their rental cars before driving away. 

“It kind of made me question how many guns are out there that are missing, that we don’t know about,” MacLeod said. “Check every single compartment. I know that sounds very tedious, and I know when you travel, you’re tired, and you just want to get where you need to get. But, check every single compartment.”

Shortly before speaking with 11Alive, MacLeod received a call from Avis and said they offered her a full refund for her rental.

Atlanta Police sent the following statement to 11Alive:

Ideally, we would want to see lost items reunited with the legal owner. However, if the rental company isn’t responsive to an issue where a firearm has been left in a rental vehicle, it is appropriate to call 911 and request an officer respond and recover the firearm.

11Alive reached out to Avis, and a public relations representative said they were looking into the matter but did not provide an official statement on this situation. 

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