An accidental discharge was the cause of a brief police operation that ended with five people hurt including one person who was shot in the foot, officials said.
The FBI and other federal and local law enforcement agencies were gathering and investigating at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Friday afternoon after a man ran through the terminal with a gun and then was tackled to the ground by airport employees.
The man was not carrying identification, but law enforcement sources familiar with the incident said the man was Youssef Zaghba, 24, from London.
A witness told CNN that a man with a beard and speaking Arabic shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he was running through the airport. A woman who was waiting to board a flight told CNN she heard gunshots and saw people falling over a counter in fear.
People were told to get down on the floor because there was gunfire, one of the witnesses told CNN.
Federal law enforcement officials told CNN that the man who fired the gun in Atlanta never left the airport.
Atlanta police chief Erika Shields said her department has ruled out terrorism as a motive. Two other sources familiar with the matter also said that none of the initial reports to them about the man were credible. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity.
After asking people to evacuate the terminal, police were called to a man with a handgun.
Hundreds of passengers began fleeing the terminal as TSA officers rushed to alert other employees that they needed to secure the area. Airport police and a SWAT team were sent in and ordered an evacuation.
Five people, including the man who was shot, were being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, hospital officials said.
“During a full evacuation, a passenger encountered an unattended firearm, exited the building and fled on foot,” the Atlanta Aviation Department said in a statement.
Travelers who were inside the terminal when the incident happened were being evacuated to another part of the airport where they will be reunited with their bags and allowed to board buses to their departure gates, airport spokeswoman Kristen Stewart said.
In a series of tweets from inside the airport, witnesses described a chaotic scene.
“Lavish location @HartsfieldJackson has been evacuated. We left 6 flights, 2 staff & 2 families. WE’RE ON THE HANGAR. They’re telling us to go to a different area @buzzerbar,” one of the tweets said.
“I’m staying here because I don’t know what’s going on, but I think my flight is still going to leave at 2pm. I’m hopeful. #Atlanta #HartsfieldAirport,” said another.
Inside Terminal B, where the evacuation was still underway, an airport employee posted pictures on Twitter showing an airport map posted in the restroom and a TSA agent standing on the stairs leading to a concourse.
Other TSA officers, who had also been evacuated from the terminal, told reporters it was an unconfirmed incident.
Another Tweet from the airport provided additional details, saying police closed off the area because someone with a gun had been seen running through the airport.