‘She’s got a gun’: Video captures shooting inside BNA

Video obtained by WSMV4 Investigates shows a shooting inside the Nashville International Airport.
Body camera footage from several airport officers shows the frantic moments when a woman entered the baggage claim area and fired her weapon.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 7:11 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - On April 17, 2022, Nashville International Airport (BNA) police were on the run.

Body camera footage, obtained for the first time by WSMV4 Investigates from several airport officers, shows the frantic moments a woman entered the airport near the North Baggage claims and fired her weapon.

After 7:06 a.m. on April 17, the video shows Sydnee Thomas walking through the doors at BNA. One minute later, she pulls out a gun.

It’s unclear how word spread throughout the airport, but the video shows the immediate response from police. One officer is seen running at full speed, and another camera shows an officer, identified as Jacob Cissell, walking and then beginning to run as he learns of the shooting.

Cissell meets up with another officer who says, “She’s got a gun.”

Though the internal incident report shows heavy civilian foot traffic in the area, the video shows a generally empty area void of panic.

Cissell’s body camera video shows him advancing around a wall and seeing Thomas lying on the floor.

“Hands out in front of you, right now,” Cissell says in the video.

Cissell repeats the phrase, to which Thomas can be heard saying, “They’re going to kill me.”

In the video, you can see a phone near her face as she lays on the floor. The incident report reveals Thomas was on the phone with her mother as she opened fire. While watching the video, it also becomes quickly apparent why Thomas is on the ground: she’s shot herself in the leg. Officers immediately remove the gun and begin to assist Thomas.

“She said she shot herself in the leg and that she wanted us to shoot her, and she wanted to die,” one officer said.

According to the incident report, Thomas had three other rounds in the magazine of the gun, along with another magazine and a folding knife.

As Thomas was taken by stretcher to an ambulance, police then found another bullet in the ceiling, the report indicating that she intended to shoot herself and missed.

WSMV4 Investigates spoke with Jeffrey Price, a professor of Aviation and Aerospace Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver, as well as an airport security analyst. We began by asking what Price thought about the relative ease with which someone could enter the airport and fire a gun.

“What it really speaks to is it’s a public area,” Price said. “Public areas are the hardest to defend because they’re open to the public. Anybody can go in there.”

Price said after shootings like the April 17 incident, there is routine discussion in the airport industry about moving security checks to the front entrance.

“But all you’ve done is relocate the public area,” Price said. “And in some cases, you’ve relocated them to a place that’s more dangerous.”

Price said that the relocated location would be where cars are moving, and dropping off and picking up people.

He said, as corroborated by the video, airports are fully staffed with security who can get to a shooter quickly.

We asked what the general public should take away from this video.

“The standard run, hide, fight, sort of response is something everybody should know,” Price said.

In a statement to WSMV4 Investigates, a BNA spokeswoman wrote, “Nashville International Airport is deeply proud of the swift actions of our Department of Public Safety, staff and volunteers with responding to an incident that occurred on Sunday, April 17, 2022. We commend the efforts and courage of Earnest Cobble, former airport employee and now volunteer, in his role with deescalating the situation.”

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