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Shooting at LAX Closes Terminal 3

Shooting at LAX Closes Terminal 3
Suspect Paul Anthony Ciancia via the FBI

See our latest updates at the bottom, including: One TSA agent was killed and one was injured along with five other people. Mayor Eric Garcetti says the suspect, identified by the FBI as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia, allegedly had 100 rounds on him. First posted at 9:50 a.m.

A shooting at LAX's terminal 3 has left a TSA employee injured, and possibly another two other victims as well, CBS LA is reporting.

Police have confirmed the shooting. The suspect has apparently been apprehended, according to news reports. CBS reported that he's been shot in the leg.

See also:

*Gerardo I. Hernandez, TSA Agent, Killed in LAX Attack.

*LAX Has 4-Decade History of Being a Target For Terror.

Eyewitnesses told CBS that shots were fired and people ducked for cover -- and then airport police began to quickly evacuate the terminal.

Century Boulevard was also closed leading into LAX, causing major traffic problems in the area.

NBC reports the gunman opened fire at a security checkpoint. Aerial video showed passengers running from the terminal soon after.

Passengers at LAX tweeted some details:

Shooting at LAX Closes Terminal 3
Shooting at LAX Closes Terminal 3
Shooting at LAX Closes Terminal 3

 

Police are said to be sweeping the terminal, slowing combing through every square foot to make sure there are no additional suspects in hiding.

Eyewitnesses are telling reporters that the suspect had an assault rifle. He's been described as a young, white man.

One eyewitness told KFI, "It happened at the checkpoint. He didn't get through the checkpoint. ... I ran too. In the secured area, they were letting us out the door to where the planes are. Police officers came pretty fast. I heard about five shots myself and then ran out the door ... to where the planes where, on the tarmac."

The FAA has reportedly grounded all flights to and from LAX.

CBS reports that police are focused on a series of "multiple, suspicious" packages -- which, in light of how many packages are at any airport on any given day, particularly one when people are fleeing in panic -- is going to be no easy investigation.

CBS is reporting that a large box of ammunition is found.

The Los Angeles Police is declining all comment at this point, letting the airport take the lead. Through its Twitter account, the airport has confirmed that the incident began at 9:30 a.m. But LAX Police declined to give any details to the Weekly, refusing even to verify if anyone had been apprehended.

A news conference is anticipated shortly, however, LAX police announced the only media they'll allow in are people with broadcast trucks.

Multimedia journalist Rubi Martinez has tweeted a photo of law enforcement massing at the scene:

Shooting at LAX Closes Terminal 3

Evacuations are continuing; passengers report being loaded into buses.

Shooting at LAX Closes Terminal 3
Shooting at LAX Closes Terminal 3
Shooting at LAX Closes Terminal 3

LAPD has asked drivers to avoid the area -- most streets are a parking lot. Century remains closed, and Manchester, Sepulveda and the 105 are not moving. The following map, provided by traffic app INRIX, shows just how bad it's gotten, and where:

Shooting at LAX Closes Terminal 3
Courtesy of INRIX

[Update at 10:58 a.m.]: Ambulances carrying the wounded were able to break free through the gridlock. CBS is reporting they've arrived at UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, which is about a 30-minute drive from the airport on a good day.

Also, people are reporting they got stuck in the Sepulveda Tunnel, with no information -- and so after an hour of no movement, began to abandon their cars. It's going to be awhile before the traffic delays on this one clear up.

The good news is that the triage area set up at LAX has been seeing no additional victims, according to helicopter surveillance by TV news crews. For all the reports of panic inside the airport at the time of the shooting, mass casualties appear extremely unlikely.

[Update at 11:20 a.m.]:: Charlie Kaye of CBS is now reporting they have confirmation that one of the shooters was an off-duty TSA agent. A press conference is supposed to begin in just a few minutes; we'll continue to monitor and push for independent confirmation of that allegation.

Meanwhile, the LA Times is tweeting that they have confirmation the gunman is dead.

The LAPD has not officially confirmed either report. Their official statement, in total, is as follows: "Today at 9:30 a.m. a single shooter in LAX around terminal 3 area started shooting. Multiple victims were injured. LAX PD engaged the suspect. Suspect was taken into custody. For precautionary reasons terminal 3 and surrounding areas will be swept."

The LAPD confirms to the Weekly that the department is on a citywide tactical alert meaning no officers can go home at the end of their shifts.

LAPD Spokesman Commander Andy Smith tells KFI, "There are several victims that have been shot. ... The suspect was also shot by LAX police. We're doing a search with canines just to be sure there are no more suspects in the area. Right now we believe this is the only guy. ... We don't know for sure ... what the heck he was doing here. It's a little bit early to determine if there was anyone he was targeting."

[Update at 11:40 a.m.]: UCLA Medical Center is reporting that one victim is in critical condition; two others are in fair condition.

[Update at 11:52 a.m.]:At a press conference in front of LAX, Mayor Eric Garcetti reported that the incident began at 9:20 a.m., 10 minutes earlier than previously reported. He thanked the law enforcement community and said the situation is now static, and safe. He urged people to stay away from LAX if they could, because the ongoing investigation makes the situation very complicated.

Then Patrick Gannon, chief of LAX police, took to the mikes. He said an individual walked into the airport, pulled an assault rifle out of his bag, and began to open fire. The shooter then walked past the screening area, into the airport itself. The airport police responded immediately, tracked down the individual, and "engaged him in gunfire in Terminal 3 and were able to take him successfully into custody."

Gannon continued, "As you can imagine, a large amount of chaos took place during this entire incident. We believe there was a lone shooter" -- meaning previous reports of a second gunman were incorrect. Gannon reiterated that the shooter taken down by police was "the only person that was armed in this incident."

Gannon then cautioned, "There is a tremendous amount of investigative work that needs to be done, but we have done security sweeps through the entire airport, and we feel confident this incident is tied to Terminal 3 and Terminal 3 only."

LAFD Interim Chief James Featherstone then reported that seven people had been injured -- but that just six were transported to area hospitals. The condition of the seventh has not been confirmed and officials would not further address its condition.

Chief Charlie Beck said the LAPD would not speak about the nature of the injuries or the identify of the suspect.

LAX is now accepting incoming flights at just half of the normal pace. Some flights are being diverted to Ontario Airport. "I think it's fair to say that almost every flight out of LAX today will be significantly late," said LAX official Gina Marie Lindsey.

In answer to questions from reporters, LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon said he is not clear on how many fatalities there have been. He also said that -- contrary to some media reports that the shooter had been an TSA employee -- he did not know if the shooter was a federal employee, or ever had been one.

He described the scene in some detail.

"This individual was shooting as he went into the terminal," he said. "The officers did not hesitate. ... And that was heroic." The suspect got very far back into the terminal, he said -- reaching a Burger King before LAX police were able to take him down.

As reporters pressed, Gannon reiterated that he did not know if the shooter was affiliated with the TSA. "I don't know, and that's the truth."

As to the status of the victims, Natalie DiBiasio, a reporter for USA Today, is reporting that "Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees in Washington, has confirmed that a TSA officer was killed." Kauffman told the L.A. Weekly that, yes, a TSA employee appears to have died. "That's our understanding," he said.

Interestingly, this is the very first day on the job for the city's new interim fire chief, James Featherstone. A former LAFD employee, he was until recently working for the city's Emergency Management Department.

 

[Update at 12:47 p.m.]: At a press conference, the medical director at Ronald Reagan Medical Center confirmed that three injured people had been taken to the hospital. All three were male, and two had suffered gunshot wounds. The third was suffering from "other injuries I can't clarify further."

One of the gunshot victims was in critical condition; the other two men were in fair condition.

Three other victims were taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center -- and one has died. L.A. County Dept. of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz confirms that the deceased was a male in his late 30s.

[Update at 1:24 p.m.]: NBC News is identifying the shooting suspect as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia, who reportedly has anti-government views.

The FBI maintains that only one person was killed in today's violence. Here's part of the agency's afternoon statement, via spokeswoman Laura Eimiller:

The shooting took place at Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport this morning in the 9:00a.m. hour by an individual believed to be a lone shooter. The suspect was arrested following an officer-involved-shooting, the circumstances of which are also under investigation by police. Investigators have identified several victims of the shooting, one of whom was killed as a result of the shooting.

LAPD Commander Andrew Smith that his department along with the FBI agents and L.A. County Sheriff's Department bomb squad deputies were going through the airport and "clearing" areas, in a search for possible explosives, as a precaution.

[Update at 1:38 p.m.]: An FAA spokesman tells us a "ground stop" remained in effect at LAX today. That means departures are not being allowed.

J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, told reporters this afternoon that the death of a transportation security officer during the attack was a first for the agency "to our knowledge."

The official said the employee was a behavioral detection officer who might have recently been transferred to LAX from Montana recently.

" ... One of our own has lost his life today in the line of duty ... ," he said. " ... He lost his live in service to his country."

[Update at 1:44 p.m.]: Associated Press reports that the 23-year-old suspect, a man from New Jersey, had a hand-written note in his bag, a note that said he "wanted to kill TSA and pigs."

AP says the man was wearing fatigues.

[Update at 1:50 p.m.]: President Obama today said he was monitoring the situation at LAX. After a meeting with with Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki at the White House he said this:

Obviously, we've been monitoring it, we're concerned about it, but I'll let the law enforcement folks talk about it directly.

[Update at 2:03 p.m.]: Enrique Rivero of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center says three patients came to the hospital from LAX. One was in critical condition and two were listed as fair, he said. All three were described as male adults.

Two of the three were gunshot victims, Rivero said, and the other had "other injuries." He was unable to elaborate.

[Update at 2:15 p.m.]: A Harbor-UCLA Medical Center doctor told reporters that two patients, both men, were taken to his facility.

One "arrived to us unfortunately without signs of life," he said.

Doctors tried to revive the man for more than an hour to no avail, the doctor said.

The other patient sustained a "superficial wound" to a shoulder, he said.

[Update at 3:21 p.m.]: The FBI confirmed that 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia of Los Angeles is the suspected shooter.

A police official in his hometown of Pennsville, New Jersey, told the Weekly that department had "no comment at this time because it is an active investigation."

Reports indicate that the suspect's brother called police because he was concerned he might try to kill himself; the LAPD reportedly tried to conduct a welfare check on the man this morning but found he was not home.

Meanwhile, LAX officials denied reports that passengers were left stranded in planes as terminals were cleared by bomb squads. LAX spokeswoman Katherine Alvarado told us that passengers could deplane and that, once in their terminal, were free to leave.

However, KNX 1070 Newsradio says one of its newswriters has been stuck on a plane on the tarmac for nearly an hour and a half.

Radio station KFI says an affiliated entertainment reporter Terry Hart landed at 11 a.m. and was stuck on her plane for hours.

"The bathrooms are not working anymore and they are no longer giving us sodas.," she said.

El Segundo police this afternoon warned motorists to "avoid the LAX area for the next several hours" as a result of the law enforcement activity there.

[Update at 3:32 p.m.]: The FAA says it lifted its "groundstop" at 3 p.m., a spokesman told us. That means departing flights can resume.

[Update at 4:31 p.m.]: Mayor Garcetti told reporters at a news conference at LAX that the gunman packed extra ammunition. "There were more than 100 rounds that could have literally killed everyone in the terminal," he said.

He said President Obama called him to "express his sympathies ... to express his support for the family of the fallen."

David Bowdich, special agent in charge of the FBI's L.A. office, said the suspect was being treated at a hospital.

He said one TSA agent was killed and one was injured. Additional people were treated, likely as a result of "evasion injuries" in their effort to escape the gunman, the agent said.

Anyone with serious information or tips about the suspect was asked to call the FBI at 888-226-8443.

L.A. World Airports chief Gina Marie Lindsey said 746 flights were affected by the attack and its aftermath, including 46 that were diverted from LAX and hundreds -- "the rest" -- that were "held on the ground."

LAX police Chief Patrick Gannon said his officers "caught up" with the suspect at the back of terminal 3 and opened fire.

Westside City Councilman Mike Bonin described what the cops did as rushing toward the sound of gunfire until they immobilized the suspect.

Gannon said reports that LAX police were recently moved from their stations behind screening areas were correct. He argued that the moves, which put them in front of screening areas, proved fortuitous today and allowed the officers to get their man quickly.

Meanwhile, a statement by the Los Angeles Airport Police Officers Association describes the attack this way:

The gunman entered LAX Terminal 3 at about 9:20 a.m., pulled the rifle out of a bag and started shooting, according to Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon. Gannon reported that the gunman went up an escalator, approached the passenger screening area and shot his way through to the Terminal 3 gate area, where he was subdued by Airport Police Officers who were in pursuit.

-With reporting from LA Weekly managing editor Jill Stewart, staff writer Dennis Romero, and staff writer Gene Maddaus.

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