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False Reports of Gunfire Cause Evacuations at JFK Airport

Aug. 15, 2016
4 min read
False Reports of Gunfire Cause Evacuations at JFK Airport
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In a world where threats of violence are all too common, reports of an attack can't be taken lightly, even when unconfirmed. And that's what happened on Sunday night when terror spread through Terminal 8 and Terminal 1 at New York's JFK Airport. Thankfully, a few hours after original reports of gunfire, the airport has been cleared with no reports of injuries or arrests.

At around 9:30pm on Sunday night, there were several reports of gunfire inside JFK's Terminal 8. About 45 minutes later, there was another report of gunfire inside JFK's Terminal 1.

Following the reports of gunfire throughout both terminals, which were spread by word of mouth, the airport quickly became a scene of mass chaos. To be cautious, the Port Authority evacuated Terminal 8 in addition to bringing in the help of the NYPD's Hercules Strike teams, Critical Response Command, Strategic Response Group, Emergency Service Unit and patrol police who were on the scene. In addition, the FAA issued a ground stop on all flights to and from JFK until at least 12:30am.

However, that ground stop has since been lifted since the area has been cleared.

As of 7:45am (ET) on Monday, there is still no official word on what the cause of the reports of gunfire were, but there are several reports that it could have been loud noises coming from people celebrating the victory of Jamaican runner Usain Bolt in the Olympics.

TPG Assistant Editor Nick Ellis' cousin was ticketed for an American Airlines flight to London on Sunday night from JFK and was inside Terminal 8 when the evacuation took place. She reported mass chaos from within the airport, including scenes of people hiding behind charging ports and babies screaming.

After evacuating, passengers congregated outside the terminal.
After evacuating, passengers congregated outside the terminal.

Following an announcement, she and a few other passengers gathered in a bathroom in the terminal and sat in a stall as they heard reports that there was a shooter on the exterior of the building, so they were being contained in the bathroom. A while later, those within the terminal were escorted outside through a back corridor to the baggage area by authorities. By the time they had reached baggage claim, passengers were hearing that one woman was shot and injured, but nothing had been confirmed.

Passengers waiting outside JFK's Terminal 8 baggage claim area.
Passengers waiting outside JFK's Terminal 8 baggage claim area.

At one point, passengers from Terminal 1 were even evacuated onto the ramp, and can be seen waiting here next to a Lufthansa 747-8:

Some flights were canceled and others were delayed by several hours — AA flight 104, American's last daily flight to London, didn't depart until nearly 3am, and is still en-route to Heathrow. Presumably, security has been increased at JFK's checkpoints and there are additional residual delays from the ground stop.

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Following the many violent events we see on the news on an all-to-common basis, it doesn't seem too excessive for authorities to have acted and evacuated the terminals as they did. In the end, authorities responded to reports of gunfire in the terminals, but at this point, there's no further word on what exactly caused the mass evacuations.

What was your experience at JFK last night?


Featured image of JFK courtesy of Shutterstock.

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