TSA agent spots gun parts hidden in toy animals

3 Stuffed Animals at Providence Airport Stuffed with More than Fluff: Gun Parts Concealed Inside
Photos courtesy of TSA

Updated 6:28 PM ET

(CBS News) A Transportation Security Administration officer discovered something more than just three stuffed animals inside a carry-on bag going through the conveyor belt of a Rhode Island airport X-ray checkpoint Monday.

Hidden inside each of the three toy animals were ammunition parts that when put together become a handgun, said the TSA.

A TSA official at the T.F. Green International Airport in Providence noticed the concealed parts in the bag belonging to a 4-year-old who was with his father en route to Detroit.

According to the TSA, its officers alerted the airport's police, which found the main frame of a .40 caliber firearm in one animal, a firing pin and a magazine carrying two .40 caliber rounds in another animal, and a slide concealed in the third animal.

The items were seized and the man and child were allowed to go on their flight to Detroit.

"This incident is currently being investigated by the Rhode Island Airport Corporation Police, FBI and the RI State Police," said Leo Messier, Rhode Island Airport Corporation police chief, in a statement.

"It appears to be the result of a domestic dispute. It was jointly investigated by the law enforcement agencies with the TSA, who determined that there was no threat at any time to air safety.

"The father and son were subsequently released and allowed to travel to their destination."

An investigation is continuing, said the TSA, which added the incident did not affect airport operations.

The agency said that the incident is an example of why its officers inspect everything closely and that the process is efficient even with the screening modification for kids 12 and under.

One of the stuffed animals containing a gun part hidden and then later discovered by a TSA agent at a Providence, R.I. airport, May 7, 2012.