ATLANTA (AP) — A man accused of accidentally firing a gun in his bag at the Atlanta airport, causing temporary chaos and prompting a temporary ground stop on flights, has turned himself in, police said Tuesday.
Kenny Wells, 42, was waiting at the airport’s main security checkpoint Nov. 20 when his bag was pulled aside by a Transportation Security Administration worker for a secondary search, police said. During the search, Wells lunged into the bag and grabbed a gun, causing it to go off, police said. Wells then fled with the gun, which was later found in a trashcan at the airport.
Wells turned himself in to the Clayton County jail, police said Tuesday. He’s charged with carrying a weapon or long gun at a commercial service airport, reckless conduct, discharging of firearms on property of another and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The investigation is ongoing, police said.
No one was shot when the gun went off, but the discharge caused a frenzy on social media as alarmed travelers posted videos to Twitter and other sites showing and describing moments of chaos and confusion at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, one of the world’s busiest airports.
Authorities said three people suffered minor injuries, including one person who fell in the airport’s atrium area away from the checkpoint, and two complaining of shortness of breath.
Social media users reported there were long lines afterward and missed flights for some. The incident came ahead of the peak Thanksgiving holiday travel season as people are still coping with the concerns of safely traveling during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the FAA ordered a temporary ground stop, airport officials said operations never ceased and the airport did not close. They said the airport returned to normal operations in under two hours.