Gunman Kills One and Injures Others at LAX Airport in Los Angeles
A gunman opened fire with a high-powered rifle inside Los Angeles international airport on Friday, killing a security agent, injuring at least seven people and causing disruption to flights across the United States.
A man named as Paul Anthony Ciancia, said to be in his early 20s, used an assault rifle to cause chaos in Terminal 3 before being shot and captured by airport police.
The victim who died was an employee with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which administers security checkpoints at US airports. The TSA said a number of its agents were injured. At least one was in critical condition.
Ciancia's condition was not immediately known but he reportedly had multiple gunshot wounds. The Los Angeles fire department said seven people were hurt, of whom six were taken to local hospitals. The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center said it received three male casualties, one of whom was in a critical condition.
Patrick Gannon, the airport police chief, told a news conference that the gunman entered Terminal 3, home to airlines including Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and JetBlue, at 9.20am local time. He took an assault rifle out of a bag and began shooting at the screening area, where security agents check passengers' travel documents.
He breached the screening checkpoint and continued shooting as he entered deeper into the airport, Gannon said, until police cornered him near a Burger King. "Personnel officers responded immediately … They tracked the individual through the airport and engaged him in gunfire and were able to successfully take him into custody. As you can imagine a large amount of chaos took place."
A California congresswoman, Loretta Sanchez, citing a briefing from law enforcement officials, confirmed local media reports that named the shooter as Ciancia.
Airports around California were put under heightened alert and the White House was briefed. Paramedics set up a medical triage area outside the terminal. LAX operated at reduced capacity after the incident. The Federal Aviation Administration halted all flights to LAX that were not already in the air.
Brian Adamick, 43, was at Terminal 3 preparing to board a Spirit Airlines flight to Chicago when people started running through the area. Adamicktold reporters he went through an emergency exit, down stairs and out on to the tarmac, with several other passengers.
"While I was on the tarmac, I heard two gunshots from the same area where the people had been running and screaming," he said. Minutes later buses evacuated passengers and a TSA agent with a bloodied ankle who appeared remarkably calm, saying "I got shot, I'm fine", according to Adamick.
The agent told passengers not to worry about him and that he had been shot before, Adamick said. "It looked like it was straight out of the movies." he added.
A reporter for NBC4 News said he saw two injured people leave the terminal. One was in a wheelchair, while another walked out accompanied by emergency personnel, the reporter said.
Bill Reiter, a reporter for Fox Sports, said gunfire in the terminal had prompted a "stampede". He said on Twitter, at 9.30am local time: "I was at the Virgin terminal at LAX when gunfire broke out. Many of us have run on the tarmac. I don't know what's happening but I'm fine."
He added: "When gunfire broke out there was a stampede people, all of us hiding under seats we didn't fit under, we burst through the door to outside. After the initial burst of gunfire and hiding, people started jumping over one another, jumping off chairs, pushing each other. Chaos & fear."
Another passenger told CBS of surreal moments as police surrounded the gunman: "Some people were running for their lives, others remained calm."
The actor James Franco arrived at LAX as the incident was unfolding. "Some s** tbag shot up the place," he tweeted.
His publicist confirmed to the Associated Press that Franco was a passenger on a flight that landed Friday morning after the shooting occurred.
Police evacuated the terminal and dozens of flights were cancelled and diverted. Road closures jammed traffic around the airport.