Photo Credit: Rayner Simpson
Chaos Breaks Out After Passenger's Gun Goes Off At Atlanta Airport
A frenzied scene erupted when a gunshot was heard at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Saturday afternoon, according to USA Today. The incident, which officials of the airport are calling an “accidental discharge,” occurred around 1:30 p.m. at the airport’s main security checkpoint, says the Transportation Security Administration.
According to the TSA, a security officer discovered a “prohibited item” during a routine X-ray of a passenger’s luggage, prompting a search of his bag. The officer proceeded to open the compartment of the bag that contained the prohibited item, and the passenger “lunged into the bag and grabbed a firearm, at which point it discharged,” said the TSA.
Upon hearing the gunshot fired, people began to panic and scramble chaotically, fearing it was an active shooter situation. No one was shot, however, three people sought medical attention: one who had fallen and two who had experienced shortness of breath, according to Atlanta police.
“We’re fortunate that when the firearm went off, that nobody was seriously injured,” said Robert Spinden, TSA federal security director for Georgia.
Incoming flights to the Atlanta airport were temporarily stopped, and around 3:30 p.m., police cleared the airport to resume normal operations.
The passenger, who has since been identified as 42-year-old felon Kenny Wells, fled from the airport with the loaded gun. His whereabouts remain unknown and there are now multiple warrants out for Wells’ arrest in connection with the incident. The investigation currently remains ongoing.
While firearms are able to be legally transported on flights, passengers must declare them and any ammunition they may be carrying to the airline at the time of luggage check-in, according to TSA regulations. All firearms should be carried in checked luggage only, inside of a locked hard-sided container. Firearms must remain unloaded and in the locked case at all times.