The search continues for the man who caused chaos at Atlanta’s airport over the weekend when police say he accidentally fired his gun at a security checkpoint.
Investigators have identified the man as Kenny Wells, 42. He got away after the accidental discharge and took the gun with him.
Atlanta police won’t confirm how many times the gun went off at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s main security checkpoint, but the sound was loud enough to send people running, leaving their belongings.
“All of a sudden I hear bang, bang, bang. They’re telling us it was accidental discharge. I mean, three times though? that’s kind of hard,” one witness said.
Investigators said a TSA agent spotted the gun in Wells’ bag around 1:30 p.m. Saturday and decided to take a closer look.
“During that secondary search, the passenger lunged into his property, grabbing a firearm that was located inside which ultimately discharged,” said Robert Spinden with the Transportation Security Administration.
Wells got away through an adjacent exit lane with the gun still in his hand.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Sophia Choi obtained a copy of APD’s police policy at the airport.
The policy said officers “shall respond to any checkpoint within 6 minutes when called for assistance” and “officers shall observe the public and be on the alert for potential acts of criminal activity in and around the checkpoint areas.”
Witnesses told Channel 2 Action News that it was pure panic after Saturday’s shooting.
“Everybody was told to evacuate and run and evacuate,” one witness said.
“It was really, really scary,” another said.
- EXCLUSIVE: New Channel 2 poll shows Andre Dickens taking lead in mayor’s race
- 8-year-old with autism still missing in Gwinnett County more than 24 hours later
- Cobb County couple was shot multiple times after neighbor broke into their home, warrants reveal
Police say Wells is a convicted felon. He was released from prison in 2000. He has a list of offenses between 1997 and 2015 including burglary, forgery, impersonating an officer, false imprisonment, theft by taking, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Wells is facing that same charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after Saturday’s incident.
His new charges also include carrying a concealed weapon at an airport, discharging a firearm and reckless conduct.
Police say three people needed medical assistance after Wells fired his weapon.
One person fell in the atrium and two others complained of shortness of breath.
“People were ducking, getting behind barriers and jumping in cars,” a witness said.
The TSA told Choi on Monday that Atlanta ranks as No. 1 in the nation when it comes to passengers caught with weapons at security checkpoints.
The TSA has confiscated 450 weapons from Hartsfield-Jackson so far in 2021.
Normally, when they spot a gun, the TSA immediately calls APD, but in this case the agent wasn’t sure it was a gun, so they decided to take a closer look and that’s when everything went down.
©2021 Cox Media Group