2016-08-17 / Front Page

Unfounded Gunfire Report Causes JFK Panic

By Liz Goff
Chaos and panic erupted among passengers at JFK Airport on Sunday night, after an “Active Shooter” scare sent Port Authority police and the NYPD counter-terrorism unit into Terminal 8 at the Queens airport.

Port Authority spokesperson Joseph Pentangelo said authorities evacuated Terminal 8 “as an act of caution” at about 9:30 p.m. on August 14, after passengers reported hearing shots fired.

A second call of shots fired at about 10:15 p.m. led authorities to close Terminal 1 and the nearby Van Wyck Expressway, authorities said.

Port Authority officials said the panic was caused by passengers who mistook the sound of a crowd clapping for gunfire, and called police.

Terrified passengers fell to the ground as heavily armed Port Authority and NYPD officers raced into the terminals shouting, “Get Down, Take Cover,” eyewitnesses said.

“I’ve heard that New York City cops are best prepared for a terrorist attack,” Aaron Weatherly, 26, said. Weatherly said he met up with friends in New York and was heading to a vacation in Italy when he saw the cops running into the terminal. “Those guys aren’t playing,” the Iowa native said. “It’s kind of a shock to see cops with armored gear and machine guns running through the terminal looking for a gunman. They got there immediately and shouted at us to take cover,” he said. “They actually managed to keep most people calm, because they really knew what they were doing.”

Both terminals and the Van Wyck Expressway were reopened after police officials issued an “all clear” signal, authorities said.

Police officials said they will review the incident to determine if the police response needs some fine tuning. “The officers responded appropriately to what could have been a deadly situation,” police officials said. “They train for this each and every day.”

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