Airport Shutdown

Passenger trips were interrupted Saturday when a firearm discharged at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

This story was updated Nov. 24 at 2:30 p.m.

Kenny Wells

Kenny Wells

The Atlanta Police Department is searching for the passenger whose weapon discharged while going through security at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Nov. 20.

Police have issued warrants for passenger and convicted felon, Kenny Wells, 42. According to police, his weapon discharged around 1:30 p.m. at the main security checkpoint, inciting chaos throughout the airport. Allegations of an active shooter swarmed through social media as videos and images spread of passengers on the ground and standing outside the airport after being evacuated.

The Atlanta airport quickly put those allegations to rest, releasing a statement on Twitter saying there was no active shooter, but an “accidental” discharge.

According to Robert Spinden, the Transportation Security Administration’s federal security director for Georgia, while going through TSA, a prohibited item in Wells’ luggage was flagged. Wells was required to submit to a second search. During the second search, a TSA agent told Wells to not touch his property, but as the agent opened the luggage, Wells allegedly lunged for his firearm in his bag, leading to the firearm discharging. Spinden said Wells then fled the security checkpoint with his firearm.

Police say no one was injured due to the gunshot, but several people were injured while fleeing. According to TSA, at least three people were injured, but there could be more.

Police say they found the gun in an airport trash can Nov. 23, but Wells is still at large.

Wells is facing charges of carrying a concealed weapon at a commercial airport, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, discharging a firearm and reckless conduct.

Police say they are “actively pursuing this individual,” but would not elaborate on Wells’ criminal history.

“This incident underscores the importance of checking personal belongings for dangerous items before leaving for the airport,” TSA said in a statement. “Firearms, particularly loaded firearms, introduce an unnecessary risk at checkpoints, have no place in the passenger cabin of an airplane, and represent a very costly mistake for the passengers who attempt to board a flight with them.”

According to TSA, more than 450 firearms have been detected at Hartsfield-Jackson TSA checkpoints in 2021.

Passengers may travel with firearms in checked baggage when they are unloaded and packed in a locked, hard-sided case. The passenger must declare and present the case with the firearm at the airline check-in counter and inform the airline representative of their intention to travel with the firearms. Firearms are transported with checked baggage and are placed in the cargo hold of the aircraft.

Firearm parts, including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, are prohibited in carry-on baggage, but may be transported in checked baggage.

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