The federal Department of Homeland Security must investigate the response to a shots fired scare at Kennedy Airport that sparked chaos last week, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday.
“The panic and chaos that ensued from the ‘shots fired’ scare at JFK last week raises very disturbing questions about the state of preparedness and coordination of response if — heaven forbid — a real attack were to occur,” said Schumer (D-NY).
Calls to 911 last Sunday night reporting shots fired at the airport turned out to be unfounded.
Sen. Chuck Schumer said that last week’s “shots fired” scare at Kennedy Airport “raises very disturbing questions about the state of preparedness and coordination of response.”
(Larry Busacca/Getty Images for DGA)
There were reports of Transportation Security Administration agents abandoning their posts and yelling misinformation, and long periods of time during which no agency provided useful information to passengers, Schumer said.
“In the age of ISIS-inspired-and-directed terror attacks it is a national priority to make sure targets, like our airports, are best prepared to recognize, diffuse and professionally handle the very real threats that confront us,” he said.
A DHS probe determine what camera footage of the incident shows, how the TSA trains and drills for such emergency situations, how different law enforcement agencies are set up to coordinate in a crisis, and what systems are in place to communicate with airline customers, Schumer said.
Meanwhile, former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said the false alarm shows how nervous travelers have become after recent terror attacks.
“Unfortunately, I think it’s just a sign of the times. There is a high level of anxiety,” he said on the John Catsimatidis AM 970 radio show. “You ask why, and the answer is, well, we just saw a major attack in the last four or five months in the airport in Brussels, we saw an attack in Istanbul, we saw the killing of 49 people in a crowded club in Orlando. People are on edge, no question about it.”
Kelly said police were “somewhat hamstrung” because they could not easily establish that the shooting reports were baseless.
“People apparently panicked based on rumor, and that caused all of the turmoil,” he said. “People are skittish, and quite frankly understandably so, when you get in places where there are large groups of people and it may not be that easy to escape.”