AIRPORT SECURITY

Terminals at JFK airport resume operations after shooting scare

Reports of gunshots in the departures area prompted a mass evacuation and flights to be grounded

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 10:17am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 11:18pm

Two terminals at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport are resuming normal operations after reports of shots fired prompted evacuations and grounded and diverted flights.

The reports, which led to some frightening moments for fliers Sunday night, were later determined to be unfounded and the airport was given the all-clear.

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“At this time, no firearm, rounds or shell casings or other evidence of shots fired has been found,” said Joe Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department.

Police evacuated Terminal 8 around 9:30 pm Sunday as a precaution after receiving 911 calls about shots fired near the departures area.

Port Authority police called in officers from the New York Police Department to assist with the investigation.

A short time later, police closed Terminal 1 after they said they received additional reports of shots fired in that terminal. A highway approaching the airport also was shut down.

Passengers posted pictures and videos on Twitter that showed crowds of people gathered outside of the terminals.

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Demetrius Pipkin said that he was in Terminal 1 waiting for his Norwegian Airlines flight when the reports of shots fired came in.

“We were previously told to get on the floor and take cover behind any and everything we could find,” said Pipkin, who described the terminal as a “madhouse” with panicky passengers eventually bolting for the nearest exits.

According to the flight tracking company, FlightAware, all inbound flights were held at their origin until 11:30 pm “due to security”.

Sherwin Bryce-Pease, a correspondent with South African Broadcasting Corp based in New York, was on a Norwegian Airlines flight from Paris that landed at JFK shortly before 10 pm.

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“They told us nothing from the flight deck. Only that the earliest the gate will be available will be in an hour 15 minutes from when we landed, an announcement greeted by huge sighs on our Norwegian Airlines flight from Paris,” he said.

There were no injuries reported. It was not immediately clear what led to the airport scare.

On Saturday, reports of gunfire sent a crowded mall in Raleigh, North Carolina, into chaos. The Crabtree Valley Mall was placed on lockdown in the early afternoon after several shoppers reported hearing gunfire, but a search turned up no suspects or bullet casings.

Reuters and Associated Press