Atlanta airport security questions after a gun was fired near a TSA checkpoint

Wells fled the airport with a firearm in hand. Airport visitors posted videos on social media on Saturday showing chaos at the airport as news of the accident spread.

The firearm discharge comes as Hartsfield-Jackson commanded all US airfields in Number of firearms recovered At security checkpoints in the first nine months of the year. Transportation Security Administration officials have issued warnings about an increase in the number of unauthorized weapons.

“The number of firearms our TSA officers stop at airport checkpoints is alarming,” TSA Administrator David Pekosky said in a statement last month.

Atlanta police have issued warrants for Wells’ arrest on charges of carrying a concealed weapon at a commercial airport, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, firing a firearm and reckless conduct, Major Reginald Moorman of the Atlanta Police Department announced in the airport district. Saturday evening press conference at Hartsfield-Jackson.

In this undated custody photo provided by the Atlanta Police Department, suspect Kenny Wells.  A passenger waiting for a bag search at Atlanta's main airport security checkpoint arrived at the bag, carried a firearm, and exploded, causing chaos among travelers and prompting an FAA halt on flights on the afternoon of Saturday, November 20, 2021, officials said.  Police said later on Saturday night that they had identified the passenger as a 42-year-old convicted criminal, Wells, and had issued an arrest warrant.  (Atlanta Police Department via AP)
to explain

In this undated custody photo provided by the Atlanta Police Department, suspect Kenny Wells. A passenger waiting for a bag search at Atlanta’s main airport security checkpoint arrived at the bag, carried a firearm, and exploded, causing chaos among travelers and prompting an FAA halt on flights on the afternoon of Saturday, November 20, 2021, officials said. Police said later on Saturday night that they had identified the passenger as a 42-year-old convicted criminal, Wells, and had issued an arrest warrant. (Atlanta Police Department via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

The incident also shows how even the slightest glitch in airport security can have a ripple effect in terms of flight delays and cancellations.

According to flight tracker FlightAware, 26% of flights departing from Hartsfield-Jackson on Saturday were delayed and 23% of flights arriving at Atlanta’s airport were delayed. A total of 12 flights were canceled in Atlanta.

These delays come before the busiest travel periods of the year. Some US airlines expect this year’s Thanksgiving season to be the busiest time for air travel since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The US Transportation Security Administration predicted that About 2 million people Daily from November 19 to November 28. This Thanksgiving season is expected to be About 13% higher from last year, according to AAA.

Traffic returns to the North Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Sunday, November 21, 2021. Steve Schaefer of the Atlanta Constitution JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
to explain

Traffic returns to the North Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Sunday, November 21, 2021. Steve Schaefer of the Atlanta Constitution JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Delta will offer a travel exemption to travelers affected by the delay on Saturday.

The shooting at Atlanta airport led to the Federal Aviation Administration ending a halt to flights scheduled to depart for Atlanta on Saturday between 1:38 p.m. and 2:14 p.m.

Delta requested a ground stop starting at 5:28 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The ground hold was briefly followed by a ground delay as Delta worked to manage the gate space, with flights delayed due to the accident.

Passengers evacuated Aisle T after the shooting. These passengers were screened again for security upon their return to the station.

Delta, Atlanta’s dominant airline, said nearly all of its customers had bags back on Saturday, and that eight customer bags had not been claimed at 7 p.m.

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