Reported sounds of gunfire from inside of John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York City on Sunday evening caused two terminals to be shut down temporarily, and sent frightened passengers out into the streets, in droves, for safety.
As reported by NBC News and several other media outlets, law enforcement and emergency officials were called in mass to the transportation mecca in Queens, New York, after a woman entering Terminal 8 claimed to have heard gunshots from inside of JFK. Another unnamed passenger also confirmed the noises to a JFK Airport employee, and word began to quickly spread, causing hysteria and concern. After quickly evacuating passengers and employees as a precaution, police began hunting for the supposed gunman and possible injured parties. However, as their investigation transpired, no shell casings or wounded passengers were ever found near Terminal 8, or in any other part of the airport.
Spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Joe Pentangelo, relayed through an e-mail that calls regarding the shooting were made, but could not confirm at that time whether or not such an event had ever taken place.
“This apparently was near the departures area,” he stated, as noted by the New York Times. “There are no reported injuries or arrests at this time, we have no actual confirmation of shots fired. As a precaution, Port Authority police are evacuating the terminal at this time.”
A video review of security captures from Terminal 8 ultimately verified that there were never any gunmen or guns fired inside of JFK Airport at anytime during Sunday evening. Following a brief physical investigation, officers on the scene came to the conclusion that the commotion the two ear witnesses heard were actually people loudly clapping, banging, and hollering at the coverage of the Olympic Games that were being played on televisions inside of JFK.
“Preliminary investigation does not indicate shots were fired at JFK,” a spokesperson for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey expressed on Twitter. “There are no injuries. At this time, no gun shells or other evidence of shots fired has been found. Travelers should contact their carriers. There is substantial PAPD and NYPD presence at JFK and LGA. The investigation [will] continue.”
The LGA presence purportedly came from rumors that a similar act had taken place at neighboring LaGuardia International Airport, also in Queens. However, those claims were just as unfounded as the ones at JFK Airport.
Following the evacuation, all inbound planes were directed to land at nearby airports, including Buffalo Niagara International. Additionally, all outbound planes were either delayed or cancelled until the situation was under control. As of 1 a.m. Sunday morning, according to PIX 11, authorities gave the “all-clear” for JFK Airport to resume business and passenger traffic.
As word about the reported shooting became known, those who were at the manic scene took to social media, most notably, Twitter, to verify the talk of rumored gunfire, heightened police presence, and the evacuation.
Panic at jfk theyre closing the gates at security-possible shooter pic.twitter.com/OJUIFaenEI— Dan Archer (@archcomix) August 15, 2016
Around 10:15 p.m., 45 minutes after Terminal 8 was initially shut down, another batch of phone calls from citizens inside of JFK Airport claimed to have heard shots also coming out of Terminal 1. Just as it had with Terminal 8, an “all-clear” by law officials was ultimately given.
Van Wyck Expressway, the main driving port to JFK Airport, was shut down following the initial reports of gunfire, but has since been reopened to vehicles. Police have not commented on the identities of the two witnesses who said they heard the shots, nor have they expressed whether or not they will be questioned for their part in the overall situation.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]