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ATL Closed After Firearms Alert

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ATL Closed After Firearms Alert

Old 17th Nov 2001, 00:33
  #1 (permalink)  
The Guvnor
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Exclamation ATL Closed After Firearms Alert

Atlanta Hartsfield has been closed after a firearm was spotted in carry-on luggage being put through a scanner. When challenged, the owner ran off. The terminals were evacuated of passengers, and searched by the authorities.

At present airports in the area are at 'groundstop'.
Old 17th Nov 2001, 05:28
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Actually no gun, no x-ray machine.

What happened is somebody ran down the escalators that move upwards from the trains connecting the terminals and immediately jumped on a train.

End result is the airport was closed for 3 1/2 hours. Planes that were ready for take-off were dis-embarked and all the terminals were emptied. Everybody re-screened at security. Operations might get back to normal some time tomorrow afternoon at the earliest.
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Old 17th Nov 2001, 14:43
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whatshouldiuse - indeed so. Incredibly, none of the hundreds - if not thousands of police, security staff and National Guardsmen were able to catch him. This poses very hard questions about ongoing security problems in the US: what if he really had been a terrorist?


Football Fan Causes Airport Debacle
The Associated Press
Nov 16 2001 10:20PM

ATLANTA (AP) - A football fan rushing to catch his flight ran past guards and through a passenger exit at the nation's busiest airport Friday, forcing officials to halt flights and causing a ripple effect that slowed air traffic throughout the United States.

When arrested nearly seven hours later, the man told police he had cleared security once but returned to the terminal to retrieve his camera bag. He said he ran down the up-escalator in the exit area to avoid long lines at a security checkpoint for fear he would miss his flight.

The security breach all but shut down Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, as flights into and out of the city were delayed on the busy travel weekend before Thanksgiving.

Private security workers, National Guard troops and police had chased the man to no avail.

Thousands of passengers - including the man later taken into police custody - and airport employees were forced into parking lots outside the terminal while the entire airport was searched.

The Federal Aviation Administration halted departures at Hartsfield and planes in other cities destined for Atlanta were told to remain on the ground, FAA spokesman Christopher White said. International flights were allowed to land and passengers were held in the concourse.

Benjamin DeCosta, the airport's general manager, said from 5,000 to 10,000 passengers and employees were ordered out of the airport.

The passenger exit had been staffed by two private guards with International Total Services, which handles security at Hartsfield. Police and National Guard troops were nearby. Officials at the Cleveland-based security company did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

After the entire airport was searched, all passengers had to go through even tighter security.

The man in police custody, Michael S. Lasseter, 32, of Gainesville, said he re-entered the airport with the other passengers and returned to the Northwest Airlines gate. He missed his flight to Memphis and was waiting for another when, authorities said, Northwest agents identified him from a security videotape and he was arrested.

"I don't think he had any criminal intent,'' said James Stogner, operations manager for Hartsfield.

Lasseter, wearing a Georgia T-shirt and jogging pants, told authorities he didn't know he had been chased or that anybody was looking for him. He was traveling with his son and uncle, who made the flight, to attend Saturday's Georgia-Mississippi football game in Oxford, Miss.

"I'm as blown away by this as anybody,'' Lasseter's wife, Carla, said Friday night in a telephone interview from her home.

Planes began taking off again after 4 p.m. Flight schedules were not expected to be back to normal until Saturday.
Old 17th Nov 2001, 23:25
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Red face

By MAURICE TAMMAN Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer
Man says he didn't know the fuss was about him
... He ended up in the main terminal outside the airport's security zone and began looking around for his camera ... Realizing he was about to miss his flight, he dashed the wrong way down the escalators to the trains below, triggering an airport-wide search and evacuation. ... He later told police he was unaware he had caused so much trouble. "He heard somebody had breached security, but he didn't know [authorities] were looking for him," said Atlanta police Major M.L. Brooks. ...
Hmm. let's see, he passes out of the secure zone, realizes it and runs, not walk, through the clearly marked "exit only" past two security agents down an escalator the wrong way ... and doesn't realize he has done something wrong? Yea, right . If this person is not convicted fined and sentenced to imprisonment the system is truly a joke.
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Old 18th Nov 2001, 00:24
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I think you overestimate the intelligence of the average Georgia football fan. I find it quite believable that his brain is incapable of putting 2 and 2 together. He'd already left his camcorder on the train - indicative of a deficient attention span, wouldn't you say ?
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Old 19th Nov 2001, 07:20
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This is the part that scares me...
"He was traveling with his son and uncle"
aparently he's been breeding, wonderful!
Old 19th Nov 2001, 10:14
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And is reportedly a 'bank executive' (which probably means junior teller).
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Old 20th Nov 2001, 03:34
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This idiot must have caused *quite* a commotion as these escalators are usually very busy and are somewhat long. He had to have been rudely pushing people from out of his way.

The local paper called Hartsfield "Haltsfield" afterwards.

PaperTiger - try driving around Atlanta sometime . . .
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Old 21st Nov 2001, 11:57
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Hello, I just got back from the tender mercy of Southwest Airlines because I got stuck in Tallahassee Friday afternoon courtesy of said moron. When I arrived in ATL around 1915 the queues were incredible, check-in for DL looped around the arrival hall baggage belts and screening queues went round the terminal almost twice. Must have taken 3 to 4 hours to work through that lot. So Sunday I drove 2 hours to BHM and flew out of there to ISP instead of the usual jaunt ATL/LGA. BHM had 5 minute queues, much more civilised !! And it was half the price.
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