The passenger, Kenny Wells, disobeyed instructions and grabbed his firearm, causing it to go off.
Authorities said Wells rushed out of the terminal with the gun in a bag, as hundreds of fearful travelers hit the floor believing the commotion might be an active shooter.
Atlanta police are searching for 42-year-old Kenny Wells who they say fled the airport after a weapon was discharged at a checkpoint on November 20, 2021. (Atlanta Police Department)
Detectives knew the route Wells, a convicted felon, took to leave the terminal.
Late Tuesday afternoon, they traced the route looking behind planters and into garbage cans. And in one of the cans, on the south side section of the facility, they found a discarded black 9-millimeter handgun.