FLORIDA (ABC NEWS)/ (WJBF) – Police descended upon Florida’s Orlando International Airport Tuesday night in response to a man whom they believed was carrying a gun in one of the airport’s rental car lots. When he was eventually taken into police custody, it was determined the gun was fake.
“Gunman in custody,” tweeted Orlando Police at 10:08 p.m. “Everyone is safe. We will brief ASAP at media briefing location.”
Orlando International Airport first released information of the incident at 8:21 p.m. when it tweeted, “Incident ongoing involving man w/ weapon in terminal – Level 1 A-side, rental car area. Police on scene, area contained. Min impact to ops.”
Then at 9:04 p.m., Orlando Police tweeted, “There is no active shooter. No shots fired. Suspect is contained. Will post updates as we receive them.”
At 9:27 p.m., Orlando Police tweeted that the “Armed suspect is contained but not in custody. Suspect is speaking with a crisis negotiator.”
At a press conference Tuesday night, Orlando Police Department chief John Mina said officers confronted the suspect — identified as Michael Wayne Pettigrew, 26, a former Marine — who was holding a handgun. He then pointed the handgun at officers and asked them to shoot him, Mina said. Pettigrew also pointed the gun to his head. Officers were eventually able to get him to drop the weapon.
Pettigrew then laid on the ground, but police did not initially approach him because the fake gun — which officers did not yet know was not real — was close to him. Negotiators then spoke with him for two hours.
He has been committed for mental evaluation, and he is pending charges of aggravated assault with a weapon, even though the gun was not real. Police realized the gun was fake once he was taken into custody.