A serial criminal who sparked chaos at Atlanta’s main airport after bringing a gun through security, then accidentally firing it when guards went to seize it has turned himself in to cops.
Kenny Wells, 42, surrendered at the Clayton County Jail on Tuesday after his firearm went off at a security checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on November 20.
The gun had discharged during a TSA check after convicted felon Wells had lunged onto the bag containing the firearm which he then ran off with. His illegally-owned weapon was later found at a trash can at the airport, which is the United States’ busiest by passenger numbers.
Wells faces charges of 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. He is currently being held without bond.
No life-threatening injuries were reported during the shooting and the incident remains under investigation. Footage showed panicked travelers fleeing in the aftermath of the shots ringing out, with hundreds of flights delayed as a result.
Kenny Wells, 42, surrendered himself at the Clayton County Jail on Tuesday after his gun went off at the TSA checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on November 20
Panic had erupted at the airport as reports of an ‘active shooter’ were being circulated on social media
People were on the ground and seen scrambling for cover in a video posted to social media
The image above shows scores of passengers who quickly evacuated the terminal after rumors spread of an active shooter
A sign reading ‘No Weapons Beyond This Point’ is on display at the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport
The gun had gone off during a secondary search of Wells’ belongings at around 1.30pm , according to Georgia’s TSA federal security director Robert Spinden.
‘During that secondary search, the passenger (Well) lunged into his property, grabbing a firearm inside, that ultimately discharged,’ he said.
The ‘shooting’ had caused a social media frenzy as reports of an active shooter were posted online.
Video footage and photos captured the chaotic scene as passengers had panicked after hearing the gun go off.
Passengers were seen on the ground as screams of ‘Get down!’ were heard.
Others ran from the scene with scattered luggage and belongings littering the floor of the airport.
Someone tweeted they had boarded a plane and then had to ‘close the doors’ due to an ‘alleged active shooter in the terminal.’
‘Delta is managing this as professional as always. We are hearing sirens but can’t verify anything. Will keep you up tp [sic] date. Pray!’ wrote Dianne Callahan.
Callahan, a passenger on board a Delta Air Lines flight that was about to taxi out of the gate and depart for New York, posted a photo showing a large crowd of people underneath the nose of the airplane that was parked next to her aircraft.
‘The is what I am seeing outside my window. I am at the Atlanta Airport, boarded my flight to New York when we heard screams,’ she wrote.
‘@Delta is trying to calm people down. We heard screams as people were boarding.’
Chris Burcky, who was standing in Terminal A at the time the chaos erupted, posted a photo showing Terminal T get evacuated.
An Atlanta police officer discharged at the scene after Wells’ weapon had gone off
Long lines at security and missed flights were reported on social media as a result of the incident
Large crowds gather at the baggage claim inside the Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson Airport
No injuries were reported as a result of the shooting. However, three had suffered minor injuries in the midst of the chaos as one had fallen in the airport atrium and two others complained of shortness of breath
Another witness posted a photo from the airport showing the drop-off section just outside one of the terminals.
‘Shooting inside North Terminal Atlanta Airport l hope everyone gets the change to escape alive the same way l did… running…’ she wrote on Twitter.
Stephanie Withers posted a video on Twitter showing several people believed to be with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) running along a highway leading to one of the airport’s terminals.
‘Atlanta airport employee Shantoria deserves a *major* raise for letting my husband and I jump in her car and driving us to safety amid total (what we thought was) active shooter chaos,’ Withers wrote on Twitter.
‘Hundreds of panicked people screaming and running. Thank you, Shantoria.’
Atlanta Airport tweeted that it was an accidental discharge and would be providing more information.
A Twitter user named Johnny posted a photo showing scores of passengers waiting alongside their luggage near the tarmac as Delta aircraft are parked next to the terminal.
Erika Zeidler, who was traveling from Atlanta to Anchorage, told CNN she was sitting in Concourse T when she noticed panicked people began running down the hallway.
‘We assumed they were late for a flight,’ she said.
‘Then all of a sudden more people started running down the terminal and were screaming there was a shooter.’
Witnesses also reported that airport personnel ‘shut off all the escalators and cut off all passengers and turned off the tram.’
‘Right now airport personnel is doing a really good job keeping everybody calm,’ Greg Romero, who had just gotten off an arriving flight, told CNN.
In the midst of the chaos, three people suffered from minor injuries with one falling in the airport’s atrium and two others who complained of shortness of breath.
Wells was booked into Clayton County Jail and is being held without bond
Officials with the Hartfield-Jackson International Airport later released a statement that the incident was based on an ‘accidental discharge’.
‘There was an accidental discharge of a firearm near the main security checkpoint,’ Atlanta police Sgt. Jarius Daugherty told CNN.
‘Officers are working to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.’
The airport returned to normal operations in under a couple of hours but long lines and missed flights were reported on social media following the incident.
This shooting incident is not the first time Wells has faced legal trouble.
Wells had been released from prison in 2000, according to WSB-TV Atlanta.
Between 1997 to 2015, he was charged with burglary, forgery, impersonating an officer, false imprisonment, theft by taking, and possession of a firearm.