The gunman opened fire with high-powered semi-automatic weapon; police won’t confirm that he was killed
UPDATE: David Bowdich, the FBI’s special agent in charge, confirmed that the shooter was 23-year-old Paul Ciancia, a Los Angeles resident who had previously lived in New Jersey. Witnesses said Ciancia, who is white, was wearing military-style camouflage when he carried out the attack.
A gunman opened fire at the Los Angeles International Airport Terminal 3 security checkpoint Friday morning, killing a TSA officer and wounding another before exchanging gunfire with airport police inside the terminal, according to police officials and several media reports.
LAX police chief Patrick Gannon said only that the gunman had been taken into custody. The Los Angeles Times initially reported that he’d been killed, but amended that report to say he was in critical condition. The paper also said he was a TSA employee, but changed that to say he was merely a ticketed passenger.
Gannon said the gunman pulled the assault rifle out of a bag and opened fire at the security checkpoint around 9:20 a.m., then proceeded through to the airport where LAX officers encountered him.
“LAX police tracked him through the airport and engaged him in gunfire. Were able to take him into custody,” Gannon said at a late-morning press conference near the airport. He said police believed he was a lone gunman and that the facility had since been secured.
Seven people were treated at the scene and six were taken to area hospitals, said Los Angeles Emergency Management spokesman Jim Featherstone, though he did not elaborate on who was hurt or the nature of their injuries. A hospital spokeswoman later said three people, all adult males, were being treated for traumatic injuries at UCLA Medical Center.
LAX officials said the airport, which was evacuated and had been on lockdown all morning, was once again accepting incoming flights; there was no word yet on when outbound flights would resume. Travelers were streaming out of the airport on foot, meanwhile, as all roads in and out were still shut down. (Photo, left, and video above by Tony Maglio).
Karen Garita, a bookkeeper who had planned to travel to Philadelphia with her husband and 17-year-old son, told TheWrap she was waiting for her flight when they heard multiple loud shots. People jumped up, yelled “shots fired” and pointed them toward an emergency exit, she said.
“We ran down the stairs and when we got down to baggage claim they had us all lay on the ground. Then the police told us ‘Just get up and run’ and we ran out of the terminal, everyone went different ways.”
She said her husband was fine — but was still under lockdown in international terminal.
“He ran the wrong way,” she said.
Tony Maglio contributed to this report.
A midmorning shooting inside the Los Angeles International Airport caused mass mayhem within and around the facility Friday, as authorities closed all roads in and out and began evacuating travelers by the thousands.
The Associated Press reported that three people had been shot, including the gunman, who reportedly targeted a TSA agent with a semi-automatic rifle near the security checkpoint at Terminal 3. Other reports suggested that the gunman, a young, white male, was himself a current or former TSA agent.
The shooting happened around 9:30 a.m. Pacific time. About 45 minutes later, passengers were boarding buses at a leisurely pace, suggesting the gunman no longer posed a threat.
Live news footage showed authorities setting up a massive operation on the roadway through the LAX terminals, including three tarps — one red, one yellow, and one green (above) — which are routinely deployed in case of mass casualties. Fire officials would only say that it was a “multiple patient situation,” before the AP reported a trio of injured.
Witnesses told CNN that at least 20 shots had been fired, likely only from a single gun. Another witness said he heard the shooter yelling: “It was just a real angry tone of voice; I didn’t hear any words,” said a man who claimed to be 50 feet away when the shooting began.
Flights in and out of Los Angeles were suspended and the facility was locked down as passengers were being moved to safe locations. S.W.A.T. teams were seen lining the tops of buildings.