Man who fired gun inside Atlanta airport in 2021 sentenced to 10 years

A still from body camera footage from a law enforcement officer shows a chaotic scene of a...
TSA has not installed full barriers at secondary screening areas more than a year after felon was able to grab and fire gun inside checkpoint(WANF)
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 6:43 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The man who Atlanta police say fired a gun inside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2021 was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in a negotiated plea deal, according to the United States District Court Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division.

The incident happened in November of 2021 when convicted felon, Kenny Wells, reached into his bag while a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer was checking it for weapons at the airport. Wells grabbed the Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic handgun, pulling the trigger in what by all accounts was an accidental discharge.

The U.S. Attorney took out the other charges in return for Wells pleading to a single count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

RELATED: Shocking video shows a firearm going off in the Atlanta airport

Wells immediately ran from the secure side of the checkpoint into the airport toward the T concourse while holding the gun, but then turned around and exited through the South Terminal. He blended in with passengers running out of the airport, according to never-before-seen airport surveillance video obtained by Atlanta News First Investigates and first released last month.

Police body-worn cameras recorded the chaos initiated by the echoing gunshot, so loud, an Atlanta Police Department officer assigned to the desk overlooking the main checkpoint initially believed it was an explosion.

Another Atlanta officer was walking a woman’s purse to lost and found when the first report came over the dispatch radio. His body camera was already recording audio and video. “I’ve got some kind of explosion at the main checkpoint,” the first officer could be heard saying over the police radio.

Last year, 448 firearms were detected at ATL checkpoints, an average of more than one gun a day. TSA said 80 to 90 percent of those guns were loaded.

Atlanta News First Investigates discovered the security flaw exposed by the incident. Watch our full investigation below.