Atlanta Airport went into a panic after a passenger’s firearm went off as he lunged for it during a TSA screening
One of the officers was searching a passenger’s bag at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s main security checkpoint when the passenger, who had been told not to touch the bag after a ‘prohibited item’ was identified on the X-ray, “lunged into the bag and grabbed a firearm, at which point it discharged” said the Transportation Security Administration, after he ran out of an airport exit.
Police identified the suspect as 42-year-old Kenny Wells and issued a warrant for his arrest. His whereabouts are currently unknown.
Wells faces charges for carrying a concealed weapon at a commercial airport, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, discharging a firearm and reckless conduct, Atlanta Police Major Reginald Moorman said at a press conference: “We are actively pursuing this individual as we speak.”
The TSA also added that this was not an active shooter event: “Local airport and TSA leadership made the decision to initiate a ground stop while Atlanta Police Department investigated the incident further.”
Nobody was hurt seriously from the firearm discharge, but three people had other injuries.
One person “requested EMS from a fall that occurred in the atrium of the airport, with is not in the same area of the security checkpoint,” police said. Two others complained of shortness of breath.
The accidental shooting happened around 1:30 PM Saturday, just after the TSA reported record numbers of travelers ahead of Thanksgiving. On Friday, the agency said it screened more than 2.2 million travelers — the highest number since the start of the pandemic.
After the shooter ran away, the TSA and Atlanta Police Department implemented a ground stop preventing flights from taking off or landing while Atlanta Police investigated. Before 3:30 PM, the airport received the “all-clear” and resumed normal operations.
People were lying on the ground taking cover as it happened. Other passengers appeared to have been evacuated, with videos showing people standing with their bags on the tarmac.