Worthless Airport Security Exposed at JFK After ‘Shooter’ Turned Out to Be Nothing
New York Magazine published a firsthand account of what the night was like at JFK. That there was screaming crowds and real terror even in the absence of any actual terrorists is not surprising. What’s more worrying is the complete disorder and almost total lack of protection from the airport’s security apparatus. There was no sign of communication between parts of the airport, no useful organization of panicking crowds, and almost no evidence that the airport would have protected anybody had there been an active shooter or worse. “Where was my fucking billion-dollar NYPD anti-terror force?”, writer David Wallace-Wells asks.
It’s still not entirely clear what started the non-attack, as Wallace-Wells notes. Either cheering for Usain Bolt’s 100m dash sounded like gunfire, or someone screamed they saw a gun, or already-panicking crowds knocked over the metal poles that divide airport lines, and they clacked on the tile floors sounding like gunfire. But that was enough to spawn multiple stampedes, none o which had any direction:
There was a second stampede, I heard some time later, in Terminal 4. I was caught up in two separate ones, genuine stampedes, both in Terminal 1. The first was in the long, narrow, low-ceilinged second-floor hallway approaching customs that was so stuffed with restless passengers that it felt like a cattle call, even before the fire alarm and the screaming and all the contradictory squeals that sent people running and yelling and barreling over each other — as well as the dropped luggage, passports, and crouched panicked women who just wanted to take shelter between their knees and hope for it, or “them,” to pass. The second was later, after security guards had just hustled hundreds of us off of the tarmac directly into passport control, when a woman in a hijab appeared at the top of a flight of stairs, yelling out for a family member, it seemed, who had been separated from her in the chaos.
Wallace-Wells got separated from his wife after they landed and got stuck in a JFK-typical gigantic line, disrupted by the initial flash of panic. His wife’s story gives little hope to any of us that we’ll be protected in any way come a genuine attack: