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Posted: May 31, 2017

Orlando airport standoff: Mother with children feared she'd be shot in the back


By Jason Kelly and Sarahbeth Ackerman, WFTV.com

ORLANDO, Fla. —

Operations at Florida's Orlando International Airport resumed as normal Wednesday morning, hours after the end of a standoff involving a 26-year-old man holding a fake gun, the Orlando Police Department said.

>> Watch the news report here

Michael Wayne Pettigrew was undergoing a psychological evaluation following the two-hour standoff during which he threatened to harm himself and pointed a fake gun at officers at a rental car area on the airport's ground floor, Orlando police Chief John Mina said.

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Police said that shortly before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, they received a report that there was an armed man at the airport.

>> On WFTV.com: Watch: Passengers describe standoff at Orlando International Airport

"Our negotiators did a phenomenal job talking with the subject for about two hours and finally got him to peacefully surrender," Mina said.

The suspect surrendered at about 10 p.m.

Crystal Oliphant said she was picking up her husband from the airport Tuesday night.

>> On WFTV.com: Watch: Orlando police Chief John Mina news conference on OIA standoff

"(We were) terrified," she said. "Immediately, we think that there's a bomb or that there's a shooting going on. And we're not getting any information. And there's hundreds of police (officers) just coming in."

Passengers and employees bolted once they realized what was happening.

Witness Kim Turner told WFTV that she saw the suspect dressed in black but she couldn't make out his face because she was hiding with her two children.

>> On WFTV.com: Photos: Standoff at Orlando International Airport

Turner waited for an opportunity to run to safety, and when she did, she said she saw the suspect point what appeared to be a gun at his own head.

Although the gun was fake, it seemed very real to Turner.

"I actually had a thought of me getting shot in the back," she said. "I was standing here, literally just sitting here, looking at him, waiting, because everybody else is gone."

No one was injured in the incident.


Related

Alleged gunman at Orlando International Airport arrested following massive police presence 

An armed man at the Orlando International Airport was taken into custody Tuesday night after a nearly three-hour standoff with police, authorities said.

Dozens of police officers responded to Orlando International Airport for reports of a gunman in the parking garage, officials said.

>> Read more trending news 

The Orlando Police Department said the suspect was taken into custody shortly after 10 p.m.

No injuries have been reported in connection with the incident.

Earlier, a rental car employee told WFTV he heard what sounded like gunfire, but no shots had been fired, airport spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell said.

Images posted on social media showed a heavy police presence in the area and passengers were worried about missing flights. The Florida Highway Patrol tweeted that all roads to the airport were shut down, with "zero exceptions." Authorities warned people to stay in their vehicles and away from law enforcement officers.

Earlier this year, authorities say an Alaska man killed five people inside a baggage claim area at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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