Security agent shot dead during LA airport incident
Man arrested after incident which left several others injured and flights disrupted
A federal security agent was shot dead and at least six others were injured when a gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon at Los Angeles airport today, police said.
A man was taken into custody after the incident, which caused disruption to flights nationwide.
A law enforcement official told the Associated Press that the shooting suspect is a 23-year-old man from New Jersey who wrote a rant about killing Transportation Safety Administration workers.
The official said the gunman was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing a hand-written note which said he “wanted to kill TSA and pigs”. The official identified the suspect as Paul Ciancia.
Police said the suspect was himself injured following an exchange of gunfire with officers.
Officials told a press conference they saw no further threat to the nation’s third largest airport, which is a major gateway for flights to Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Some passengers were evacuated, while others were locked down in airport restaurants and lounges. The airport was being swept for precautionary measures, and the bomb unit was on scene.
Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees in Washington, confirmed that a Transportation Security Administration officer had been shot dead.
He said the union’s information came from their local officials in Los Angeles. The gunshots were reported at Terminal 3, which is home to Virgin America and other airlines.
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Centre said it received “three male victims” from the LAX Airport shootings. One arrived in critical condition and two are listed in fair condition.”
Air traffic was affected nationwide as the Federal Aviation Administration grounded flights that had not yet departed for LAX.
Witness Brian Keech told the Associated Press that he heard “about a dozen gunshots” from inside a security gate at the terminal.
LAX air traffic controller Michael Foote said his colleagues in the control tower saw passengers spilling from the terminal on to the tarmac, “evacuating the building, getting out as fast as they could”.
Other travellers described a chaotic scene as airport security staff evacuated terminals, including on to the tarmac. Hundreds of people remained gathered outside next to airplanes.
“People started saying there’s a shooter, there’s a shooter,” said Natalie Morin, who was heading to San Francisco for a graduate school interview.
US president Barack Obama said that he was concerned about the incident. “We’re concerned about it, but I’ll let law enforcement folks talk about it directly,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office after meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.