Gunman Kills TSA Agent At LAX, Injures 2 Others
Friday, November 1, 2013
A man carrying a bag with a hand-written note that said he "wanted to kill TSA" opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, killing a TSA officer and wounding at least three others, authorities said.
The gunman, wounded in a shootout with police, was taken into custody, authorities said. The Transportation Safety Administration officer was the first killed in the line of duty in the 12-year history of the agency, which was founded in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The attack sent terrified travelers running for cover and disrupted flights from coast to coast, authorities said.
A law enforcement official said the suspect, Paul Ciancia, 23, from Pennsville, N.J., was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing the hand-written note. The official was briefed at LAX on the investigation and requested anonymity because was he was not authorized to speak publicly.
A second law enforcement official confirmed the identity, also speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.
Pennsville Chief Allen Cummings said Paul Ciancia's father called him early Friday afternoon saying another of his children had received a text message from the suspect "in reference to him taking his own life." Cummings said the elder Ciancia asked him for help in locating Paul, according to Cummings.
The chief said he called Los Angeles police, which sent a patrol car to Ciancia's apartment. There, two roommates said they had seen him Thursday and that he was fine.
Cummings said he told Ciancia's father that because of the son's age, he couldn't take a missing persons report. He said Ciancia's father owns an auto body shop. He says they are a "good family" and that his department had no dealings with the younger Paul Ciancia.
Update at 1:07 p.m. PT. 'Multiple Victims' After Gunman Opens Fire At L.A. Airport
A lone gunman walked into one of the nation's busiest airports Friday in Los Angeles and opened fire with an assault rifle, police say.
The attack left at least seven people needing medical treatment (including the shooter), officials said, and forced the evacuation of a terminal and delays of flights coming into and out of the airport..
The gunman, officials said, was taken into custody after exchanging fire with airport police.
As happens when stories such as this are developing, there was a considerable amount of conflicting information in the early hours. We're focusing on authorities who should have direct knowledge of the situation and news outlets with reporters who are at the scene or have trusted sources. Hit your "refresh" button to see be sure you're seeing our latest updates.
Update at 12:50 p.m. PT. TSA: 'Multiple' Officers Shot, One Dead:
This statement from a TSA official:
"Earlier this morning, a shooting occurred at Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport. Multiple Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) were shot, one fatally. Additional details will be addressed by the FBI and local law enforcement who are investigating the shooting."
Separately, NPR has been told by the L.A. Coroner's Office that a 40-year-old male is dead, but no further information was available.
Meanwhile, a UCLA Medical Center doctor told reporters that the hospital is treating three adult male patients from the airport shooting — one is in critical condition; two are listed as fair.
Update at 12:05 p.m. PT. No Confirmation Of Deaths:
While several local news outlets are reporting they've been told that there have been one or two fatalities, airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon just told reporters he does not know that to be true.
Update at 12 p.m. PT. "Lone Shooter," 7 Injured:
"We believe at this point that there was a lone shooter," airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon just told reporters. He said the gunman "came into Terminal 3 ... pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and began to open fire in the terminal."
Gannon said the gunman moved around the terminal before he was "engaged in gunfire" by airport police who were able "to successfully take him into custody."
"We have multiple victims that have been shot and have been transported" to hospitals, along with the gunman, Gannon said.
A fire department official followed and said seven people have been treated for injuries (presumably including the shooter), with six taken to hospitals.
Update at 11:25 a.m. PT. No Flights To LAX:
Not surprisingly, the FAA says that flights to the airport are being held at their points of origin, NBC Los Angeles reports.
Update at 11:20 a.m. PT. Obviously, Avoid The Area;
"All exits to LAX from the 105 and 405 freeways are now closed or in the process of closing," airport officials tweet. "Avoid area."
Update at 11:15 a.m. PT. San Diego Flights Delayed:
Two flights at San Diego International Airport have been delayed Friday morning due to a reported shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport, but security operations are normal, said Katie Jones, a spokesperson for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.
Update at 11:10 a.m. PT. Officials Urge Caution On Reports:
"There will be a Press Conference at 11:30am [2:30 p.m ET]," the Los Angeles police department says on its Twitter page. "Pls wait for the verified info as there are many versions of what happened."
Update at 10:57 a.m. PT. "Multiple Victims;" Suspect In Custody:
"Suspect is now in custody. Multiple victims. Press conference at 11:30 am at Sepulveda Blvd/Century Blvd w/ Airport Police & LAPD Chiefs," reads a statement on the airport's official Twitter page.
Update at 10:55 a.m. PT. "Gunshots, Gunshots, Everybody Run":
Laura Gomez, who works at a Starbucks in Terminal 3, tells NPR's Sam Sanders that she heard the "pops" of gunshots and that a co-worker then ran into the shop yelling "gunshots, gunshots, everybody run!"
Update at 10:45 a.m. PT. Police Spokesman Says Authorities Believe Shooter Is "In Custody":
It's his understanding that the the shooter is "in custody" and that there are "two, possibly three victims," a Los Angeles police spokesman just told NBC Los Angeles.
Update at 10:35 a.m. PT. At Least Three People Injured, NBC Says:
Along with a TSA employee, at least two other people were wounded, officials tell NBC Los Angeles.
The airport's Twitter page has this notice:
"There is an incident underway at LAX. Law enforcement is on scene. More information to follow."
Los Angeles Police say they are on "tactical alert" in the city's West Bureau.
At least some parts of the airport have been evacuated.
We'll keep an eye on the news and update.
Update at 10:20 a.m. PT. "Fear Unlike Anything I've Ever Experienced":
Bill Reiter, a Fox Sports columnist, has been tweeting from the scene.
Among his posts:
-- "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."
-- "That is a kind of fear unlike anything I've ever experienced. In those moments, it's true, you think about your kids and your your wife."
Update at 10:11 a.m. PT. "Situation Has Ended":
NBC Los Angeles says it is being told by officials that "the situation has ended." But, obviously, that doesn't mean things are back to normal at the airport. The FAA says planes are being held on the ground after landing.
Update at 10 a.m. PT. At Terminal 3:
"Airport officials confirm police incident began at 9:30 a.m. @ Terminal 3 at LAX. More info to come," the airport says. According to the airport's website, the airlines using that terminal are: AirTran, Alaska, Horizon, JetBlue, Spirit, Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic.
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