Atlanta airport chaos as convicted felon’s weapon explodes, 3 injured – police

Nov. 20 (Reuters) – Authorities searched for a gun owner who fled after his gun accidentally fired at the Atlanta airport, sending terrified travelers scurrying onto the tarmac on Saturday, stopping the flights during the busy Thanksgiving holiday period.

Three people sustained non-life threatening injuries after the 1:30 p.m. gunfire in the security screening area of ​​Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said. in a press release.

About two hours later, authorities gave the green light and flights resumed, the airport said on Twitter.

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An arrest warrant has been issued for police-appointed 42-year-old gun owner Kenny Wells.

He was wanted for carrying a concealed weapon at a commercial airport, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, use of a firearm and reckless driving, said Atlanta Police Major Reginald Moorman during of a press conference.

The weapon discharge occurred when a checkpoint employee was conducting a bag search “due to a prohibited object identified by the x-ray,” the TSA said in a statement.

“He advised the passenger not to touch the property, and as he opened the compartment containing the prohibited item, the passenger rushed into the bag and grabbed a gun, at which point it s ‘is discharged, “TSA said.

The gun owner fled the airport, although “he was not allowed to go,” airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil told CNN.

“Because he was being examined, we have all of his information,” Gobeil said.

The immediate fear that an active gunman had opened fire panicked the crowd, who rushed out of the terminal onto the tarmac.

“More and more people started running – there was screaming,” said traveler Erika Zeidler, who sent photos to CNN showing dozens of people scurrying onto the tarmac, some pulling suitcases.

Police said one person requested EMS after suffering a fall “in the atrium of the airport, which is not in the same area as the security checkpoint, and two others complained shortness of breath “.

Hartsfield-Jackson was the busiest airport in the world in 2021, according to aviation analysis provider Official Airline Guide (OAG).

The Atlanta airport is expected to be particularly busy during the Thanksgiving travel period, with pre-pandemic-sized crowds expected at security checkpoints from Friday, November 19 through Sunday, November 28, the TSA said.

“Officials have given the go-ahead for #ATLAirport and normal operations are starting,” the airport tweeted at 3:24 pm.

A record number of firearms were seized from checkpoints at U.S. airports in the first nine months of 2021, the TSA said.

Across the country, TSA agents have prevented 4,495 airline passengers from carrying firearms on their flights, exceeding the 4,432 firearms captured in 2019.

In Atlanta alone, 450 firearms were detected at airport checkpoints in 2021.

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Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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