(CNN) – Authorities are trying to find the person who escaped an Atlanta airport safety verify after a gun was unloaded on Saturday, scary vacationers and quickly disrupting flights at one of many world’s busiest airports, the tip week earlier than Thanksgiving.
Authorities consider the gun that was fired at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was in a bag that belonged to Kenny Wells, a passenger who police say fled with the gun in hand.
Wells, 42, is needed on arrest warrants charging him with carrying a hid weapon at a industrial airport, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct, mentioned the Commander of Atlanta Police Department Airport Precinct Reginald L. Moorman.
“We are actively pursuing this individual,” Moorman added.
Guns at Atlanta Airport
It is illegitimate for folks to hold firearms by way of safety checkpoints at US airports, based on Page Pate, a Georgia felony protection lawyer and constitutional lawyer.
In the primary 10 months of this yr, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) intercepted 4,650 firearms – most of which have been loaded – at safety checkpoints, surpassing the file for the complete yr. yr of 4,432 established in 2019.
At the Atlanta airport, 450 firearms have been detected at checkpoints to date this yr, the TSA mentioned Saturday.
Saturday’s incident unfolded round 1:30 pm, when the passenger’s baggage was flagged for a “secondary search” after an X-ray verify on the safety checkpoint detected a “prohibited item,” he defined. Robert Spinden, TSA federal safety director for Georgia, throughout a press convention.
“During that secondary search, the passenger pounced on his luggage, grabbing a firearm that was inside, which eventually went off,” Spinden mentioned. “The passenger then fled the security check through an adjacent exit lane with his firearm.”
“We are fortunate that when the firearm went off, no one was seriously injured,” added Spinden.
The incident left three folks with non-life-threatening accidents, TSA officers mentioned. A supply conversant in the matter instructed CNN that the wounded weren’t shot, however have been injured whereas evacuating the airport. The firearm was discharged into the baggage of the one who introduced the weapon, the supply mentioned.
All of the injured have been adults, two of whom have been taken to hospital, based on the supply.
Airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil known as the discharge unintended, including that the loud noise created a “sense of chaos.” The investigation into what occurred is ongoing, he mentioned.
The scare got here a day after the TSA screened greater than 2.2 million vacationers at airports throughout the nation on Friday, the very best quantity of screening for a single day for the reason that covid-19 pandemic started. an company spokesman mentioned.
Videos present chaos at Atlanta airport
The discharge of the weapon sparked panic at Atlanta International Airport, the place federal aviation officers decreed a quick floor cease for outbound flights.
Videos from contained in the airport and eyewitness accounts illustrate the confusion and worry that ensued.
In a video posted by Stephoń Stafford, line separators are knocked down as folks lie on the bottom in an obvious try to hunt safety whereas listening to somebody yell, “Get down.” Stafford mentioned he was about to undergo safety along with his son.
Another video that Haşmet Asilkan shared on Twitter from exterior the airport exhibits many individuals operating in an uproar as somebody is heard yelling at folks to run.
Dianne Callahan was touring together with her son and had boarded her flight to New York. He mentioned he heard screams exterior the airplane because the crew closed the door. He additionally heard sirens, Callahan mentioned, and did not know what was occurring.
“It was an extremely tense situation,” he mentioned. “People were pushing to get on the plane that wasn’t even on our flight. That’s how scared they were.”
Callahan and his son have been despatched again by way of safety, he claimed.
CNN’s Melissa Alonso, Raja Razek, Taliah Miller, Justin Lear, Pete Muntean, Dakin Andone, Keith Allen, David Williams, Nadia Romero and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.