NPR Story
4:55 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Suspected Gunman In Custody After LAX Shooting

Update 4:23 p.m.: Law enforcement officials identify LAX shooting suspect as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia.

Update 2:49 p.m.: Union official: TSA agent killed in LAX shooting.

Update 2:20 p.m.: Police say 3 shot, including TSA agent, by gunman with semi-automatic weapon at LAX.

A suspected gunman was in custody Friday following a shooting at Los Angeles airport that left multiple people wounded and disrupted flights nationwide.

Gunshots were reported at Terminal 3. Los Angeles police Officer Norma Eisenman said the conditions of the injured people were unknown.

She says the suspect also exchanged fire with airport police. The airport was being swept for precautionary measures and the bomb unit was on scene.

Airport staff evacuated travelers and flights were disrupted nationwide.

Television images showed two people being wheeled away by firefighters. Triage stations also were seen.

Witness Brian Keech told The Associated Press he heard “about a dozen gunshots” from inside a security gate at the terminal, which has been evacuated.

The Federal Aviation Administration said a “ground stop” was in affect for all flights heading to Los Angeles, meaning planes in any other airport in the country can’t take off for the city, although some flights already in the air were allowed to land.

LAX air traffic controller Michael Foote said some flights were still being allowed to depart.

Foote said his colleagues in the control tower saw passengers spilling from the terminal onto the tarmac, “evacuating the building, getting out as fast as they could.” Officers eventually corralled them.

Other travelers described a chaotic scene as airport security staff evacuated terminals, including onto to the tarmac. Hundreds of people remained gathered outside next to airplanes as authorities investigated what happened.

“People started saying there’s a shooter, there’s a shooter,” said Natalie Morin, a senior at USC who was heading to San Francisco for a graduate school interview.

Emergency crews responded to a multi-patient incident, Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

Terminal 3 is home to Virgin America and other airlines.

Guest

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Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson. It's HERE AND NOW.

And a suspect is reportedly in custody in the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport. It happened around 9:30 AM this morning, local time. Numerous outlets are reporting the suspect may have been an off duty TSA Agent. Three people were reportedly injured in the shooting. And the Los Angeles Times and other sources are now reporting that a TSA Agent was killed. Let's get the latest from Steve Chiotakis at KCRW in L.A. Steve, what more can you tell us about what happened this morning.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Well, as you said, Jeremy, the L.A. Times is reporting a TSA Agent was shot and killed. And now the L.A. Times is also reporting that the suspect was killed as well - that the gunman - these are there words - the gunman who allegedly opened fire today is dead. And that's according to law enforcement agents who the Times spoke with today. I can tell you, LAX is still shut down. There's a ground stop, no flights leaving or coming to LAX. And that has reverberations across the country. LAX is like the third or fourth busiest airport in the country.

HOBSON: Yeah, and let's hear some of what happened this morning. This is a sound from an LAX airport Starbucks employee, Laura Gomez(ph) who is speaking to NPR.

LAURA GOMEZ: Where I work inside - I work inside the Starbucks. At first we saw people running. A couple seconds later we ended up hearing a couple pops. And that's when we, kind of, looked around. And one of my coworkers walked out the door to see what was going on. And when she came back, she just started screaming, there's gunshots, gunshots, everybody run. That's when we ran out. Everybody left. There was just chaos everywhere.

HOBSON: Steve, what do we know about possible injuries? As you said, potentially two people killed here, the suspected gunman as well as a - perhaps a TSA Agent. That's the reporting from the L.A. Times. What about injuries?

CHIOTAKIS: Well, we're hearing at least three people were injured. One of those may have been the TSA Agent who ultimately died. We're not sure about that. But at least three injured in the LAX shooting. And as you mentioned, the gunman was killed, according to the L.A. Times. So there is that going on right now. That's the only word that we have right now. There's this news conference that's about to happen, as you know, Jeremy, in just a few minutes, at LAX, we're still awaiting word from police.

HOBSON: And tell us about where, at the airport, this incident occurred.

CHIOTAKIS: It occurred about 9:30 this morning, local time, over at Terminal 3. This is where the Virgin American flights depart and arrive over at LAX. So Terminal 3, I think there are eight or nine different terminals, including an international terminal on what's called the horseshoe at LAX. Terminal 3, one of the first ones on the right. Apparently - this is what eyewitnesses are saying on Twitter - just all over the place on Twitter, saying that someone walked in. This was around the TSA checkpoint area where escalators then - you know how they check your driver's license and your boarding pass before you go to the TSA checkpoint to be searched and patted down and all of that stuff. Well this apparently right before where you give your driver's license and your boarding pass to proceed forward to the TSA checkpoint. And this was downstairs, LAX Terminal 3.

HOBSON: And Steve, we've just got about a minute left here. But the FAA had issued a ground stop at LAX, has that been lifted?

CHIOTAKIS: For all intents and purposes the ground stop continues, because there's an investigation that continues. FAPD(ph), in there words, saying that the situation is no longer active, but they do have to investigate now. There were tons of people at LAX, which is interesting. A lot of folks had to be evacuated onto the tarmac area, which you can imagine what chaos that ensued. So you've got that situation going on. You've got people there, people tweeting pictures of... One gentleman tweeting a picture of a rifle that he saw on the ground, on the floor of Terminal 3. There's so much interesting chaos that's going on at LAX. So again, we're going to await word - that news conference coming up in just a few minutes.

HOBSON: Steve Chiotakis from KCRW, thank you so much. This is HEAR AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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