A man who created mass panic and caused a two-hour ‘active shooter’ lockdown at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport in the run-up to the Thanksgiving Holidays in November 2021 has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment in federal jail after he pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon.
Kenny Wells, 44, a multi-convicted felon who prosecutors described as a ‘very violent individual’, accidentally discharged his handgun while passing through a TSA checkpoint at the airport on November 20, 2021.
The single gunshot sent a wave of panic through the airport resulting in thousands of passengers fleeing for their lives. The Atlanta Police Department placed the world’s busiest airport under lockdown for over two hours as officers swept the terminals.
Wells had arrived at Atlanta Hartsfield to catch a flight to New Orleans, but he had traveled to the airport with a loaded handgun in his hand luggage despite being banned from possessing firearms.
After entering a TSA checkpoint, Wells placed his luggage into the X-ray machine and his bag was pulled for a hand search because something unusual was spotted.
As one of the TSA officers removed the top layer of clothes from the bag, Wells allegedly “lunged” forward and reached inside the bag. As he grabbed the handgun, he accidentally discharged it before fleeing the scene.
The TSA described a scene of panic as passengers stampeded out of the airport, while others were rushed into concourse tunnels for their own safety.
During the initial scenes of panic and confusion, Wells managed to mingle with the fleeing crowds and escaped the airport. Surveillance camera footage captured him at a nearby parking garage, where he was seen discarding an object in a large metal trash can.
A handgun was later retrieved from the trash can.
“Kenny Wells is a very violent individual who displays a total lack of concern for the lives of others,” commented ATF Special Agent in Charge Alicia Jones, following Well’s sentencing.
“This sentence also ensures that Wells will not be able to hurt or terrorize anyone else for a very long time,” Jones continued.
Following a joint investigation by the ATF and Atlanta Police Department, Wells was charged with possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon after he entered a guilty plea. Wells was sentenced on Thursday.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.