TSA officer killed, at least 7 injured in shooting at LA airportAn airport police officer cordons off terminals 2 and 3 after a shooting at Los Angeles airport (LAX), California November 1, 2013.(Reuters / Lucy Nicholson)
A lone gunman opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport in Southern California early Friday, killing at least one person, injuring several more and prompting authorities to evacuate a major terminal at LAX.
At a press conference late Friday morning, officials confirmed that they had taken into custody a suspect believed to be responsible for a rampage that started earlier that day at around 9:20 a.m. local time.
The suspect has been identified as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia, of Los Angeles, according to federal officials who spoke to NBC. The gunman was initially reported dead at the scene but multiple sources now report that he is in critical condition.
Authorities have not formally announced any casualties, but the Los Angeles Times and NBC News have both reported that a federal agent employed by the Transportation Security Administration was shot and killed during the ordeal.
During the press briefing, acting-Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Jim Featherstone said seven people had been treated on the scene, six of whom had also been transported to an area hospital. At least one of the people injured was in critical condition and another two were known to have suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Terminal 3 at LAX was the scene of mass chaos hours earlier when a gunman spontaneously opened fire, and eyewitnesses say they heard anywhere between eight to 30 shots as the incident unfolded.
Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon told reporters that the suspect entered the terminal, then “Pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and began to open fire.”
“He proceeded up into the screening area where TSA screeners are and continued shooting and went past the screeners back into the airport itself,” Gannon said.
Personnel officers from the Los Angeles Airport Police responded immediately, Gannon said, then tracked the individual through the airport and engaged him at gunfire before taking him into custody.
CBS’s John Miller initially reported that the suspected gunman was wearing camouflage clothing when he entered the area and may have been purposely targeting TSA workers. Preliminary reports suggested that the shooter may had been a disgruntled, perhaps former TSA employee, but Chief Gannon told reporters that he could not confirm allegations that the suspect was a federal worker.
Fox Sports national columnist Bill Reiter was at LAX at the time of the incident and documented the ordeal in real time over Twitter shortly after he first heard shots being fired.
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.— Bill Reiter (@foxsportsreiter) November 1, 2013
There are alarms sounding and a police helicopter overhead. People all over the tarmac, getting too close to the planes, being ushered back— Bill Reiter (@foxsportsreiter) November 1, 2013
The scene now. pic.twitter.com/ZaT1cJtde6— Bill Reiter (@foxsportsreiter) November 1, 2013
"We were just standing there and someone started shooting," eyewitness Nick Pugh told the NBC station from the scene. "I heard a total of maybe eight or 10 shots fired."
US President Obama told reporters Friday that he is worried about the news from Los Angeles and the White House will continue to monitor the situation.
“We’re concerned about it, but I’ll let law enforcement folks talk about it directly,” Obama said.
LAX serves the second-largest metropolitan area in the United States and is the sixth-busiest airport in the world. Gina Marie Lindsey, the executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, or LAWA, told reporters that LAX is technically accepting incoming flights, but at less than half of the hub’s usual pace. Large sections of the airport had initially been locked-down during and immediately after the shooting, and although a full security sweep has been conducted on the premises, officials expect delays to linger throughout the day.