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Excitement over Olympics may have sparked false reports of shots fired at JFK Airport

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NEW YORK — After false reports of shots fired at JFK Airport brought travel there to a halt and forced hundreds to be evacuated, among the theories of what caused that chaos is an especially jubilant crowd watching the Olympics.

A source told PIX11 News Monday it's still not clear what exactly caused travelers to think gunfire had gone off, first in Terminal 8 then in Terminal 1. But a crowd watching the Olympics -- specifically, Usain Bolt's gold-medal performance in the men's 100 meters -- may have been the source, having been so loud and rambunctious that those close enough to hear but far away enough not to see what what was happening assumed something was wrong.

That theory, however, is just one in a slew of possibilities, which PIX11 News' source did not specify.

It was about 9:30 p.m. Sunday when police started receiving calls about possible shots fired at JFK's Terminal 8. Soon after, police shut down Terminal 1 after receiving similar calls regarding that section of the airport.

Evacuations were ordered, flights were grounded and diverted, and the Van Wyck Expressway approaching the airport was shut down.

Demetrius Pipkin was in Terminal 1 waiting for his Norwegian Airlines flight when the reports of shots fired came in.

"We were previously told to get on the floor and take cover behind any and everything we could find," Pipkin told PIX11 News Sunday night, calling the airport "a madhouse."

But that panic was due to nothing, police said. No gun shells or other evidence of shots having been fired was found at the airport, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates JFK, said in a statement.

By 11 p.m., Pipkin said, police were busy reuniting children who'd been separated from their families in the chaos.

No injuries were reported.

PIX11 News' Greg Mocker and Alyssa Zauderer contributed to this report.