TSA worker shot, killed; others injured at Los Angeles airport
A federal Transportation Security Administration officer is dead and several others were wounded after a gunman with a high-powered rifle opened fire in a busy passenger terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport Friday.
The gunman, who was dressed in fatigues, was wounded in a shootout with airport police and taken into custody. His condition has not been disclosed.
The FBI and Los Angeles Airport Police identified the gunman as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia of Pennsville, N.J. He had apparently been living in Los Angeles. An official says Ciancia had at least five full 30-round magazines on him.
The slain security worker was the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the 12-year history of the agency, which was founded in the aftermath of 9/11.
The shooting happened inside LAX's terminal 3 just before 9:30 am Pacific time. Witnesses described the chilling and chaotic scene.
In all, one person was killed and seven were wounded in the shooting when, according to police, Ciancia opened fire with a semi-automatic assault rifle as he approached a security checkpoint line.
"He proceeded up into the screening area where TSA screeners are and continued shooting... and went past the screeners and into the airport itself," said Chief Patrick Gannon, Airport Police.
Airport police then rushed to the checkpoint.
"They tracked the individual through the airport and engaged him in gunfire in Terminal 3," Chief Gannon said.
There were dozens of people nearby when the shots rang out.
"I was just standing there and out of nowhere somebody started shooting," said Nick Pough, witness.
Operations at the airport were disrupted, affecting travelers in other terminals as well.
"They had us evacuate to the other side of terminal, then came back 5 minutes later and said 'you are leaving the terminal,'" said Carol Stubbs, witness.
Passengers were loaded onto buses to clear the area. Inbound and outbound flights were halted for awhile while those headed for Los Angeles but hadn't taken off yet, were grounded.
Police say they believe Ciancia, who's in custody, acted alone, but can't say why he did it.
A law enforcement official, who was briefed at LAX on the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly, said the gunman was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing a hand-written note that said he "wanted to kill TSA and pigs." The official requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
President Barack Obama has called the head of the Transportation Security Administration to express his condolences to the families and friends of the TSA officer who was shot and killed.
The White House says Obama told TSA Administrator John Pistole that he is grateful for all the brave TSA personnel who protect the nation's transportation systems.
Obama also spoke with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to express his gratitude for those who responded to the shooting.
The White House says Obama received briefings about the shooting throughout the day.