'Accidental' Weapon Discharge Results in Widespread Panic at Atlanta Airport

False reports of an active shooter sent Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson International Airport into a frenzy after a firearm accidentally discharged.

The arrivals pick up at Atlanta International Airport

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

The arrivals pick up at Atlanta International Airport

An “accidental discharge” of a firearm in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Saturday prompted widespread panic as travelers feared an active shooter situation.

Airport officials confirmed on Twitter Saturday afternoon that there was not an active shooter, despite first-hand accounts on social media that travelers were evacuating parts of the airport. 

“There was an accidental discharge at the Airport,” the airport wrote. “There is no danger to passengers or employees. An investigation is ongoing, more information will be published on this channel.”

“At approximately 1:30 pm today a weapon accidently discharged at ATL’s security screening area,” the airport continued. “There is NOT an active shooter at the airport. APD is on the scene. More information about the situation will be made available on our social media channels.”

CNN spoke with witnesses who described a scene of near-chaos following the “accidental discharge,” as people started running toward the exits. 

“We assumed they were late for a flight,” one traveler told CNN. “Then all of a sudden more people started running down the terminal and were screaming there was a shooter.”

Another witness said airport personnel “shut off all the escalators and cut off all passengers and turned off the tram,” adding, that Atlanta Airport’s staff “is doing a really good job keeping everybody calm.”

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