NATIONAL NEWS

Flights halted after passenger’s weapon accidentally discharges at Atlanta airport

Nov 20, 2021, 4:01 PM
All departing flights were briefly halted at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on No...
All departing flights were briefly halted at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on November 20 after the "accidental discharge" of a weapon near the main screening area during a busy travel weekend, officials said. (CNN)
(CNN)

(CNN) — The accidental discharge of a passenger’s weapon in a security area of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport caused widespread panic Saturday afternoon, prompting a brief halt of departing flights over the busy travel weekend.

The passenger was going through the screening process around 1:30 p.m. when “somebody recognized that there was a weapon in the bag,” airport spokesperson Andrew Gobeil told CNN’s Jim Acosta.

“When either the officer went in or when the passenger went in to get it, it accidentally discharged,” Gobeil said, and the loud noise created a “sense of chaos.”

According to Gobeil, after the gun went off, the passenger “took off and was able to make it outside of the airport.”

Airport officials and Atlanta Police know who the individual is, Gobeil added, because the incident occurred while the passenger was being screened.

Erika Zeidler, who was traveling from Atlanta to Anchorage, Alaska, said she was sitting in a restaurant in Concourse T when people began running down the hallway.

“We thought they were late for a flight, and then more and more people started running,” she told Acosta. “There was some screaming and then somebody stopped and said, ‘There’s a shooter, you need to go.'”

An investigation into the incident remains ongoing, Gobeil said.

In the meantime, there is no danger to passengers or employees, airport officials said on Twitter. Officials gave an “all-clear,” and the airport was resuming normal operations.

A ground stop was called for the airport for all departing flights, per the Federal Aviation Administration, but was soon lifted.

An Atlanta police spokesperson confirmed no injuries had been reported as a result of the incident.

“There was an accidental discharge of a firearm near the main security checkpoint,” Atlanta police Sgt. Jarius Daugherty said. “Officers are working to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.”

Details about the weapon or circumstances surrounding the accidental discharge have not been made available.

The FBI and the ATF are “providing investigative assistance” to the Atlanta police, according to a spokesperson for the ATF. The White House is also “monitoring” the incident, a White House official said, referring questions to local law enforcement.

The shooting scare comes as the Thanksgiving travel period is getting underway. On Friday, the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2.2 million airport travelers across the country — the highest checkpoint volume for a single day since the pandemic began, according to a TSA spokesperson.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske recently told CNN that airline passengers bringing guns to the airport is a “huge problem.” Last month, the agency reported catching 4,650 firearms — a majority of them loaded — at security checkpoints in the first ten months of 2021. That number surpassed the full-year record of 4,432, set in 2019.

Witnesses recount chaos after scare

Witnesses described confusion and disarray as panic erupted in one of the world’s busiest airports.

Zeidler and others took shelter in a TGI Fridays restaurant, she said. Photos she shared on Twitter showed a crowd of people standing on the tarmac beneath a jetway as the incident unfolded.

Greg Romero had just gotten off a flight from Salt Lake City when he heard there was an emergency, he told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield. Airport personnel “shut off all the escalators and cut off all passengers and turned off the tram,” said Romero, the father-in-law of CNN correspondent Nadia Romero.

“Right now airport personnel is doing a really good job keeping everybody calm,” he added.

A few travelers were “a little bit panicked but more frustrated,” Romero said. “They’re trying to catch flights, to get out of the airport. For the most part, people are just lined up against the walls.”

Dianne Callahan was traveling with her son and had just boarded her flight to New York when the crew closed the door to the plane. That’s when she said she heard screams outside the plane. She also heard sirens, Callahan said, but didn’t know what was going on.

“It was an extremely tense situation,” she said. “People were pushing to get on the plane that were not even on our flight. That’s how scared they were.”

Callahan and her son were then sent to go back through security, she said.

In response to the incident, Delta Airlines, which is headquartered in Atlanta, announced it was issuing a travel waiver to assist impacted customers.

“With this, the fare difference for customers will be waived when rebooked travel occurs on or before Nov. 23, 2021, in the same cabin of service as originally booked,” the statement said.

“Delta is coordinating with TSA and Atlanta airport officials to accommodate customers as quickly and safely as possible,” the airline said. “We are also working to proactively accommodate customers who may have missed a flight.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Cecily Aguilar pleaded guilty to being involved in covering up the death of Army Spc. Vanessa Guill...
Joe Sutton, Matt Phillips and Amir Vera, CNN

Cecily Aguilar pleads guilty in connection with death of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen

Cecily Aguilar, who was arrested in 2020 in connection with the disappearance of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen, pleaded guilty Tuesday to being involved in the cover-up of her death, according to CNN affiliate KWTX and an attorney for Guillen's family.
1 day ago
The download page for ByteDance Ltd.'s TikTok app is arranged for a photograph on a smartphone in S...
Stella Chan and Leslie Perrot, CNN

South Dakota governor bans state employees from using TikTok on government devices

South Dakota's governor signed an executive order on Tuesday banning state agencies, employees and contractors from accessing TikTok on government devices
1 day ago
Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West attend the WSJ. Magazine 2019 Innovator Awards sponsored by Harr...
ANDREW DALTON, AP Entertainment Writer

Kim Kardashian and Ye settle divorce, averting custody trial

Kim Kardashian and Ye have reached a settlement in their divorce, averting a trial that had been set for next month.
1 day ago
Kilauea volcano...
Amir Vera, Holly Yan and Elizabeth Wolfe, CNN

2 new lava flows cascade down Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano

The rare sight of two neighboring volcanoes erupting simultaneously became even more astounding Tuesday as new lava flows gushed down slopes on Hawaii's Big Island.
1 day ago
[File] Pride Flag...
MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press

Landmark same-sex marriage bill wins Senate passage

The Senate has passed bipartisan legislation to protect same-sex marriages.
1 day ago
Stewart Rhodes in October 2022 in federal court. (Bill Hennessy)...
LINDSAY WHITEHURST, ALANNA DURKIN RICHER and MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press

Oath Keepers boss guilty of seditious conspiracy in 1/6 case

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes has been convicted of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Flights halted after passenger’s weapon accidentally discharges at Atlanta airport