The Tom Bradley International Terminal, as well as terminals 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8, were evacuated shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday as multiple passengers dialed 911 and reported that shots had been fired, according to LAX officials, police and television reports.
“It was chaotic,” one passenger told ABC Eyewitness News. “We saw a mob running toward us.”
By 11:03 p.m. airport officials said “all terminals have been cleared” and passengers were being told to go through security screening again. Loud noises were blamed for the pandemonium, according to reports.
LAX authorities said a man in a “Zorro costume” had been detained by police following the scare but, according to reports, the man was released. ABC Eyewitness News, describing the costume as one composed of just a mask and black clothing, tracked the man down.
“Someone called and said there was a man in dark clothing out here,” the unidentified masked man told the television station. “Next thing I know I had to lay on the ground. They turned me over and put handcuffs on me. … They let me go. No charge — nothing like that. It was a misunderstanding.”
The evacuations created traffic jams outside the airport, according to reports.
The panic was not entirely unjustified. LAX has been targeted by terrorists and shooters in the past.
In 1999 “Millennium Bomber” Ahmed Ressam was accused of driving 100 pounds of explosives intended for a New Year's Eve attack on LAX into the United States from Canada.
In 2002 an Egyptian man unhappy with American support for Israel opened fire at the El Al Airlines ticket counter, killing two and injuring three.
And in 2013 a New Jersey man who reportedly hated the federal government opened fire at LAX, killing a Transportation Security Administration agent and injuring four others.
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) August 29