HONOLULU — A laptop computer that malfunctioned appeared to be what sent the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu into chaos Tuesday as flights were delayed and hundreds of people had to go back through security screening because of a rumor of an active shooter.
Leslie Ryan was aboard an American Airlines flight to Los Angeles with her husband and two children when they were all ordered to get off the plane and go back through security.
Two hours later, she was still waiting to go through security.
She said hundreds of passengers around her in the airport’s open-air lobby were doing the same.
“It’s hot and we finally got a little water,” Ryan said Tuesday afternoon.
People were spilling out onto the curb and sidewalk, she said.
Passengers who already passed through screening and boarding flights at Terminal 2 — the main terminal — were told to go through the security checkpoint again, which was holding up flights.
State Transportation Department spokesman Tim Sakahara said rumors of an active shooter appeared to be linked to the laptop that malfunctioned. The Transportation Security Administration said the laptop in a traveler’s carry-on overheated at about 2:10 p.m. The computer popped and started giving off smoke at a checkpoint.
“This created confusion, and some travelers breached the security checkpoint by running into the sterile area of the airport without being screened,” says a Wednesday statement from the TSA. The agency said its leadership decided to evacuate Terminal 2 and rescreen all passengers out of an abundance of caution.
State transportation officials tweeted about 2:30 p.m. that there was no shooter. The Hawaii State Sheriff’s Office took possession of the laptop, according to the TSA.
Ryan said airport vendors and shops had to shut down and also send their employees out to be rescreened.
“Following the breach and subsequent evacuation, TSA conducted a security sweep of the airport and aircraft using explosive detection canines,” the TSA statement from Wednesday says. “… TSA extended the shifts of on-duty TSA officers to ensure security lanes were staffed and, by 9 p.m., all TSA screening operations at all checkpoints had returned to normal.”
United Airlines said it delayed four flights to provide passengers with enough time to go through security and board their planes.
Terminal 2 reopened shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday.