Flights stopped shortly after accidental gunfire at Atlanta airport, three injuries were reported

Stewardesses wearing protective masks walk through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

Unintentional gunfire in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport security screening area on Saturday afternoon caused all departing planes to be stopped for a short time.

The airport said on Twitter that there was no active shooter or any persistent danger to passengers or employees. Early reports suggest three people sustained non-life-threatening injuries after the incident, according to the Atlanta Police Department.

“Officials have provided clarity on #ATLAirport, and normal operations are beginning,” airport officials tweeted. Details of the incident have not been released.

The weapons were unloaded during a security check at the airport, according to the latest TSA statement:

About 13.30 [ET] today, a property search TSO at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airports (ATL) Main Checkpoint began a bag search due to a prohibited object identified by the X-ray. He advised the passenger not to touch the property, and when he opened the compartment with the prohibited object, the passenger threw himself into the bag and grabbed a firearm, after which it was fired. The passenger then fled the area and ran out of the airport exit.

Various news media reported that witnesses said there was panic after the shot in the airport’s domestic terminal. NBC-affiliated WXIA from Atlanta reported that passengers boarded the planes to wait on the tarmac and around the terminals.

TSA officers have discovered more than 450 firearms at Atlanta airport checkpoints by 2021, officials said. Nearly 4,500 guns have been discovered at airport checkpoints so far this year.

When firearms are detected at U.S. airports, the TSA will assess a civil penalty that varies according to the number of offenses and whether the firearm was charged. The complete list of sanctions is published on TSA.gov.

Passengers can generally travel with firearms in checked baggage once unloaded and packed in a locked suitcase with hard sides.

The incident took place just like what is expected to be the busiest holiday travel season since the pandemic began. The Transportation Security Administration said it expects to screen about 20 million people between Nov. 19 and Nov. 28, almost back to 2019 levels.

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