ATLANTA — Police are searching for a passenger they say ran from the Atlanta airport after a gun inside his bag discharged at the security checkpoint.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport said there was no active shooter but a weapon accidentally discharged around 1:30 p.m. at the screening area. The gunshot turned into chaos as other passengers ran for cover.
“All I hear is, Bang! Bang! Bang!’ Then all of a sudden a bunch of people started running,” Bill Ryan said.
The Transportation Security Administration said an agent began a bag search due to a prohibited item being identified by an X-Ray.
The agent told the passenger, who police later identified as Kenny Wells, not to touch the bag. But when the agent opened it, Wells lunged into the bag. That is when the gun accidentally discharged, according to TSA.
Wells was able to run -- with the gun -- out of the airport.
Atlanta police have issued warrants for Wells’ arrest. Police said Wells is a convicted felon. It’s unclear what crimes he committed previously.
He is facing charges of carrying concealed weapon in a commercial airport, possession of firearm by a convicted felon, discharging of a firearm and reckless conduct.
How Wells managed to get out of the airport with the weapon is baffling.
“I know security in the airport is tough, so that’s why I’m surprised how he ran away,” Ignaciao Silva said. “We’re talking about national security.”
Channel 2 Action News viewers at the airport called to report that they are stuck on the tarmac or in baggage claim unable to move for hours.
The all-clear was given two hours later around 3:30 p.m. and operations are returning to normal.
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Officials said there were reports of three people with injuries, but none of them happened at the location where the gun went off. One person was injured during a fall and two others had shortness of breath.
Channel 2′s Christian Jennings talked to people who hid when they heard the gunshots.
“We hid in the toilets and had the doors locked,” passenger Etienne Athukorala said.
“People were ducking and getting behind barriers and jumping in cars,” Antonia Harrison said.
Southwest Airlines said their flights have been allowed to land but the passengers were being held at the terminal. American Airlines said a few of their flights were delayed as authorities secured the area, but their operation was not significantly impacted. Delta is offering their passengers a travel waiver.
MARTA says it suspended its rail service at the airport and that southbound service would end at College Park station. Normal operations resumed just after 5 p.m.
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