A man detained in 'security incident' at Orlando International Airport causes massive panic

by and

A man detained in a "security incident" at Orlando International Airport Saturday morning caused a massive panic that led to scared travelers running for their lives.

Orlando Police say a 37-year-old unarmed man was arrested after attempting to enter the west TSA checkpoint area for gates 1-59 at MCO around noon. During the arrest, a bystander falsely yelled that he had a gun, triggering a confused, panicked stampede of hundreds of travelers through TSA security and into the airport's main atrium.

"One woman said he had a knife, a gun and a hand grenade," said Jill Reeves, a witness who was set to fly home to Omaha, Nebraska. "Hordes of people were running from gates 1 through 59. It was the scariest moment of my life."

On Twitter, some said a man with a gun was tackled by police "before he had a chance to fire his weapon" and reported hearing "two loud pops."

But Orlando Police later confirmed there was no gun and any claims of an active shooter were false. Airport officials also confirmed that "no shots have been fired."

"In regards to the incident at the Orlando International Airport @MCO, all reports on an active shooter or a subject with a gun are FALSE," the police department tweeted. "Incident is contained and subject has been arrested."

Twitter users Samuel Sinyangwe and King Kunta also reported seeing people running in a "massive stampede" to get away from the incident.

Some panicked travelers rushed past TSA checkpoints, "which caused TSA to immediately suspend screening operations," OPD spokesperson Eduardo J. Bernal said in a statement. "Several travelers were injured due to the panic (pushing from the crowd) but all were minor in nature."

The man, identified by police as 37-year-old Ryan Scott Mills, was "taken into involuntary protective custody under a 'Baker Act'" on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting officer without violence, police said.

Orlando International Airport officials say screening has since resumed at gates 1-59, as well as shuttle service between the terminal and air sides. By 2 p.m., OPD confirmed on Twitter there was no threat to airport.

The incident was a shock to travelers and employees at Florida's busiest airport, where just two weeks ago a TSA employee jumped to his death from a hotel balcony inside the building's main atrium.

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.