The unloading occurred around 1:30 p.m. in the airport security control area, airport officials said on Twitter.
“There is no danger to passengers or employees,” the statement said, adding that the investigation is still ongoing.
An Atlanta police spokesman confirmed that no injuries had been reported as a result of the incident.
“There was an accidental discharge of a firearm near the main security checkpoint,” the Atlanta police sergeant said. said Jarius Daugherty. “Officers are working to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.”
A ground stop for the airport was requested for all outbound flights, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, but it was soon lifted. Airport officials soon gave a “clear all” and said the airport was resuming normal operations.
Details about the weapon or the circumstances surrounding the accidental discharge were not available.
The scare of the shooting comes when the Thanksgiving travel period begins. On Friday, the Transportation Security Administration examined more than 2.2 million passengers at the airport nationwide, the highest control volume in a single day since the pandemic began, according to a spokesman for the TSA.
Witnesses explain the chaos after the scare
Witnesses described the confusion and clutter when panic erupted at one of the busiest airports in the world.
Erika Zeidler, who was traveling from Atlanta to Anchorage, Alaska, said she was sitting in a Concourse T restaurant when people started running down the aisle.
“We thought they were late for a flight, and then more and more people started running,” he told CNN’s Jim Acosta. “There were some screams and then someone stopped and said, ‘There’s a shooter, you have to leave.’
Zeidler and others took refuge in a TGI Fridays restaurant, he said. The photos he shared on Twitter showed a crowd of people standing on the asphalt under a walkway as the incident unfolded.
Greg Romero had just landed on a flight from Salt Lake City when he learned there was an emergency, he told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield. Airport staff “closed all escalators and cut off all passengers and turned off the tram,” said Romero, the father-in-law of CNN correspondent Nadia Romero.
“Right now, the airport staff is doing a very good job keeping everyone calm,” he added.
A few travelers were “a little panicked but more frustrated,” Romero said. “They’re trying to take flights, get out of the airport. For the most part, people are just lined up against the walls.”
Dianne Callahan was traveling with her son and had just boarded her flight to New York when the crew closed the door of the plane. That’s when he said he heard screams off the plane. He also heard sirens, Callahan said, but he didn’t know what was going on.
“It was an extremely tense situation,” he said. “People were pushing to get on the plane they weren’t even on our flight. So scared they were.”
Callahan and his son were sent back for safety, he said.
CNN’s Melissa Alonso, Nadia Romero and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.