Two terminals were evacuated at John F. Kennedy International Airport due to reports of gunshots late Sunday evening, but as it turns out, those “shots” may have just been Usain Bolt fans going crazy.
On Monday morning NBC News reported that an airport official said “cheering, clapping, and banging from people watching the Olympic Games,” may have been mistaken for the sounds of scuffle and gunfire.
The alleged shots were heard around 9:30 p.m. which coincides with the moment after the beloved Jamaican sprinter snagged his third straight gold medal in the 100-meter race.
“Everyone flattened themselves under the seats for about 15 minutes until we were led out of the terminal. [We were] required to have our hands in the air, cops with guns in their hands everywhere,” said University of Chicago professor Bruce Cumings who was sitting and reading in Terminal 1 while awaiting his flight.
While it hasn’t been confirmed that it was for sure fans’ reactions that caused the commotion, a Port Authority Police Department spokesman said the incident was “not a hoax,” according to The Huffington Post. Travelers reacted by calling 911 out of genuine fear and panic.
The Port Authority released a statement following their initial investigation:
“Preliminary investigation does not indicate shots were fired at JFK. There are no injuries. At this time, no gun shells or other evidence of shots fired has been found. The terminal was evacuated out of an abudance [sic] of caution. Travellers should contact their carriers. There is substantial PAPD and NYPD presence at JFK and LGA. Investigation continues.”
The PAPD announced later that both of the terminals were searched and cleared — they had resumed normal operations by 12:45 a.m.
As the world is currently on high alert due to recent acts of terrorism and gun violence, it’s a relief to learn that this was only a scare, and the chaos was likely the result of excitement and happiness as opposed to turmoil and devastation.
It’s also comforting to see the precautionary steps taken by airport personnel and law enforcement to ensure everyone’s safety.
If Bolt could cause such a stir among people watching his extraordinary athleticism on television, just imagine what it must have sounded like live in Rio.
Banner Photo Credit: Twitter @ThisIsZackYoung, Reuters