By People Staff
Updated June 12, 2008 12:00 AM

Former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon was detained for an hour on Tuesday when security discovered an unloaded handgun in her purse at Southwest Florida International Airport. Solomon, who finished third in Season 4, was charged with a misdemeanor for carrying a weapon into the airport. The gun was confiscated, but will likely be returned after the case is complete.

“Vonzell wants everyone to know that this was an honest mistake,” her manager and father, Larry Goethie, tells PEOPLE. “She had a big purse and just didn’t realize that the gun was in it.” He notes that Solomon has a permit for the weapon, and carries it for safety during her long road trips. “She’s a single woman, and she is sometimes in situations where she needs protection. She went through the classes for proper gun safety, and tries to do everything by the book.”

The Lee Port Authority, which manages the airport, is also treating the incident as a mistake. “She was actually charged with a violation of her concealed weapons permit,” spokeswoman Barbara-Ann Urrutia tells PEOPLE. “It is a misdemeanor, so she was given a notice to appear in court at a later date.” After receiving the notice to appear, Solomon called her father to pick her up from the airport. If convicted, she faces a fine of up to $1,000.

“This has been very upsetting to Vonzell,” says her father. “But everyone involved has been very kind to her, and they realize that it wasn’t intentional.” –Steve HellingFOX