Kenny Wells has been sentenced to ten years in prison for possessing a firearm after having been previously convicted of multiple felony offenses. Wells made headlines when he recklessly discharged a firearm at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport on the busy weekend before Thanksgiving in 2021. Wells created enormous panic throughout the airport and forced a lockdown of the airport and surrounding area for over two hours after he discharged a firearm detected inside a bag he had carried into an airport security screening area.
According to the Department of Justice, the charges and other information presented in court: On November 20, 2021, Wells traveled to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport for a flight to New Orleans, Louisiana. This was the Saturday before Thanksgiving, so the airport was filled with passengers and traffic in the area was particularly high.
At approximately 1:30 p.m., Wells joined a security line to be screened by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers. A TSA officer noticed something unusual inside a bag that Wells carried as the item went through an X-ray portal. The officer then moved the bag to a separate area for a closer inspection as Wells stood watching nearby. As the officer lifted a top layer of clothing inside the bag, Wells lunged forward and reached for a firearm concealed in the bag. Wells discharged the firearm as he grabbed the weapon and fled the area. People immediately panicked, with those nearby falling to the floor to protect themselves. Law enforcement officers responded by issuing an alert of a possible active shooter at the airport. Passengers in the domestic terminal area stampeded out of the airport, while passengers beyond the check-in kiosks were rushed to the concourse tunnels for protection.
The airport and surrounding area were placed in lockdown for more than two hours. This public safety precaution prevented passengers from boarding flights and pilots from allowing passengers to deplane from aircraft parked on the runways.
During the confusion, Wells escaped from the airport by blending in with the fleeing crowds. Surveillance cameras captured him at a nearby parking garage where he was seen discarding an object in a large metal trash can. Law enforcement officers later retrieved a firearm from the same trash can. Because Wells left his boarding pass at the TSA checkpoint, law enforcement was able to identify him as the person who discharged the firearm, discarded the firearm in the parking garage trashcan, and caused widespread panic in the airport.