Local Authorities Squash Rumors About ISIS, Airport Lockdown

Local Authorities Squash Rumors About ISIS, Airport Lockdown

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - It all started when Midland International Airport was said to be on lockdown.

According to Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter it was just, "some fool calling in I'm sure, or somebody starting something on the Internet, but there's no truth to that, never was."

But that rumor spread like wildfire. Even NewsWest 9 was slammed with calls and had to put up a disclaimer.

The incident sent "a scare through the community" Airport Director Marv Esterly said.

They believed that there may have been a couple of people being detained inside.

"Social media travels pretty quickly as we all know and we got a lot of calls immediately after that," he said.

An employee working at the airport made the claim but Esterly said they were pretty quick to resolve the issue and made sure that the employee that initiated it actually understood the seriousness of the incident.

"And I'm sure that will not happen again," he added.

This comes at a time when the community is already on edge with news of the terrorist group ISIS potentially making their way to the U.S.

"The report was at the border or inside Juarez, Mexico, it wasn't on this side," Painter explained. "There had been no positive sightings."

Recently, Sheriff Painter got national attention for his comments regarding ISIS. He said it's to promote awareness, not fear, which Esterly said is not necessarily bad.

"We want people to be hyper aware of their surroundings and what's happening and report anything that's suspicious, that they may see that's suspicious," Esterly said.

Painter has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback and, "calls of people calling offering support, telling me 'Thanks, I appreciate you standing up. Thank you for doing that. It needed to be said.'"

Then he reiterated what needed to be said.

"We know they're in the United States. I mean anyone that recognizes the border and how loose it is, there is no control on the border. It's just like you're pouring water through a screen. It ain't stopping nothing," Painter said.

Even though there's no imminent danger locally, authorities are not laughing.

"I think they need to shut their mouth, ain't no joking to it. Today is 9/11, the most horrific day in this nation's history," Painter said.

As for the airport officials, they said they can't talk specifically about their security  but say that everyday is a heightened day for them.

"It's just like talking or saying something at a check point. We take everything we hear out there very seriously," Esterly said.

Local police and TSA responded to the situation Thursday afternoon. Repercussions for the employee who sent out the false claims are still to be determined. But officials want to caution the public against starting a frenzy.

"Whether it's somebody calling in and making a joke or threat to the airport or posting something on social media, those things can land you in a lot of trouble," Esterly said.

"They might get hurt. That's kind of stupid especially in Texas because somebody will thump ya a little bit," Painter said.