With all the mass shootings happening across the country, it’s understandable that people are on edge. One could reasonably argue that gun violence in the U.S. has reached the level of a genuine national emergency.
On Saturday, an attempted security breach at the Orlando International Airport in Florida prompted mass panic after it was initially believed the alleged offender had a gun.
According to the Orlando Police Department (OPD), just after noon, a man attempted to enter a checkpoint at the airport. “While attempting to arrest the subject, he reached into his pocket. Unknown persons at the screening area yelled the subject had a gun, which caused panic in the screening area,” authorities tweeted.
Traveler Samuel Sinyangwe described the scene as follows, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel: “I look over and just a massive [group of] people running toward me saying ‘get down and run.’ I put my head down and ran until we got outside the airport.”
But according to OPD, there was no gun. Suspect Ryan Scott Mills, 37, was detained and possibly involuntarily committed, according to the newspaper.
OPD said that “all reports on an active shooter or a subject with a gun are FALSE. Incident is contained and subject has been arrested.”
According to airport officials, screening has resumed at the west checkpoint, which serves gates 1-59, although delays should be expected. Officials advised travelers to arrive extra early for any remaining flights serviced through these gates today.
The incident was the second in as many weeks to cause panic and delays at the airport. On Feb. 2, an off-duty Transportation Security Administration officer died after jumping from a balcony at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in an airport atrium.
Note: According to police, the tweet above is incorrect in that the man did not have a gun. But passengers can be forgiven for panicking, given that the most recent mass shooting in the U.S. happened just yesterday, at a manufacturing warehouse in suburban Chicago, IL, where six people were killed and five police officers were injured.