The event happened years ago (pre 2007). It is not a "spontaneous discharge" but an accidental discharge due to impact. 1911s have the ability to discharge when dropped unless modified with something like a firing pin safety. Series 80 Colts have this, but the Colt in the incident did not. The gun impacted on the muzzle. Inertia drove the firing pin foward through the tension of the spring just as would happen if struck from the rear by the hammer, resulting in the discharge.
This is almost
a wives tale. A properly fitted and non modified Series 70 1911 has almost zero chance of discharging a round even if dropped on the muzzle. I'm not saying that the potential isn't there, just that there's an infinitesimal chance of it happening.
Years ago I took an old battered, unmodified series 70 and put a primed case in the chamber and abused it in many ways to see if it would pop the primer. Dropping it on the muzzle, tumbling it across the room on the floor, all sorts of stuff. It never popped the primer. I didn't do it in an MRI machine though, lol.
I think the story is hinky too. Perhaps not the writing of the story, but the facts as reported to the writers. It doesn't add up. Perhaps the gun was modified and not reported to be because it wasn't supposed to be or the guy would be in trouble with his superiors. Or perhaps the magnet in the machine is
that strong. But that wouldn't make 1911s prone to that type of failure.