Flight attendants wearing protective masks walk through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.
Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An accidental firing of a shot in the security control area of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Saturday afternoon resulted in all departing flights being temporarily halted.
The airport announced on Twitter that there was neither an active shooter nor a continuing threat to passengers or employees. Early reports suggest three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries following the incident, Atlanta police said.
“Officials have given the all-clear for #ATLAAirport and normal operations are starting,” tweeted airport officials. Details of the incident were not disclosed.
The shot was fired during an airport security check, according to the latest TSA statement:
Around 1:30 p.m. [ET] Today, a home search TSO at the main checkpoint of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) launched a baggage search based on a prohibited item identified by the x-ray. He advised the passenger not to touch the property, and when he opened the compartment with the prohibited item, the passenger threw himself in his pocket and grabbed a firearm which triggered it. The passenger then fled the area and ran out of the airport exit.
Various news agencies reported that, according to witnesses, panic broke out after the shots in the airport’s domestic terminal. Atlanta-based NBC subsidiary WXIA reported that passengers got off planes to wait on the tarmac and near the terminals.
TSA officials discovered more than 450 firearms at Atlanta Airport checkpoints in 2021, officials said. So far this year, almost 4,500 firearms have been discovered at airport controls.
If firearms are discovered at US airports, the TSA will impose a civil sanction that varies based on the number of offenses and whether the firearm has been loaded. The full list of penalties is published on TSA.gov.
Passengers can generally travel with firearms in their checked baggage if they are unloaded and packed in a locked hard case.
The incident occurred during what is expected to be the busiest vacation travel time since the pandemic began. The Transportation Security Administration said it expects to screen about 20 million people between November 19 and November 28, almost back to 2019 levels.
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