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Rental Car Surprise: Comes With An AR-15 In The Back

A Florida vacation got off to an odd start for Judith Fleissig, 58, of Rochester, N.Y., when she and her daughter realized the car they'd rented had an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. More oddness followed: The gun was left there by the wife of Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, police say.

Fleissig and her daughter rented the Nissan Rogue in South Florida on Jan. 4. Only hours earlier, it had been rented and returned by Lauren Tannehill, reports Florida's Sun-Sentinel, citing a Broward County sheriff's report.

The Miami Dolphins have told the newspaper that the couple views the incident as a personal matter.

The AR-15 is often called thecivilian version of the military M-16, as NPR's Ailsa Chang reported in a profile on the weapon last June.

"This is certainly the kind of item you don't want to forget anywhere, but forgetting isn't a crime," Broward Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion tells The Miami Herald.

And unlike a GPS, the rifle is not on the list of equipment options for vehicles rented from E-Z Rent-A-Car, where Fleissig picked up the car at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport complex.

The Sun-Sentinelsays Fleissig and her daughter, who was also in town to interview for a job, had been driving the Rogue around with a powerful gun onboard for a couple of days before they realized there was a bag in the SUV's rear compartment.

Fleissig tells the newspaper they intended to contact the owner themselves when they opened the bag, which she says had no ID tag.

Her daughter opened the bag and said, " 'Oh my God, it's a gun,' " Fleissig says. "I said, 'I think I'm going to throw up.' "

"We got out of the car; we were kind of freaked out. I didn't want to touch it. I took a picture, zipped it back up and went to the police station. They came out and took it. "[I thought] 'this vacation is getting better and better.' "

The rental company told the pair to give the gun, valued at an estimated $2,000, to police. The company also says it cleans cars between rentals as a matter of routine.

It seems that the Tannehills only used the Rogue for a couple of hours before deciding to return it for a different vehicle.

The Sun-Sentinelreports:

"The gun is legally owned by Ryan Tannehill, and the couple immediately called the rental car company to report a missing item and was given 'the run around,' but the couple didn't specify what was lost in the bag, a source said."

It's not yet clear whether the Tannehills have claimed the gun from the police. As The Sun-Sentinel reports, Lauren Tannehil's Twitter feed includes photos of the couple firing rifles — though seemingly not an AR-15 — at a shooting range.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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