Criminal Justice

'Chaos & fear' at LA airport as TSA agent is slain; suspect in custody

The Los Angeles airport looked like a set for a movie on Friday morning as a gunman who may have been a ticketed passenger fatally shot a Transportation Security Agent in one of the terminals and onlookers scrambled to avoid gunshots fired from an assault rifle.

“An individual came into Terminal 3 of this airport, pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and began to open fire in the terminal,” said chief Patrick Gannon of the Los Angeles Airport Police at a press conference.

A Los Angeles police spokeswoman said a suspect has been taken into custody and is believed to be the only individual responsible for the melee, Reuters reports.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said responding airport police shot the suspect as he crossed a security checkpoint, still firing, the New York Times (reg. req.) reports.

One TSA agent was killed, and a second TSA agent was shot in the leg. The suspected gunman was shot in the chest several times before being taken into custody, CNN reports, in an article that relies on information from unidentified sources.

It appears from news accounts that at least seven people, possibly including an additional TSA agent or agents, were injured. The FBI has taken charge of the ongoing investigation.

As gunfire resounded at about 9:20 a.m., followed by a public announcement of a shooting, individuals ran away, dropped luggage and either fled the building through emergency exits or took cover in secluded areas such as offices and restrooms.

“After the initial burst of gunfire and hiding, people started jumping over one another, jumping off chairs, pushing each other. Chaos & fear,” tweeted Fox Sports national columnist Bill Reiter. He was at the airport during the gunfire, according to CNN.

Vernon Cardenas, who works as a casting agent for the Fox television show MasterChef, said he heard a rumble and then saw people running toward him, the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.) reports.

“Mayhem” ensued, he said, as parents looked for children who weren’t immediately at hand and some couples began crying.

Accountant Brian Adamick had been waiting for a Chicago flight and was among those who fled the building to the tarmac, where they were evacuated on buses. A TSA agent with an injured right ankle sat next to him, he told NBC News in a telephone interview. “I said, ‘Are you OK?’ He said, ‘I’m fine. I got shot. Don’t worry, I’ve been shot before.’

“I said, let me take a look, and he pulls up the pant leg and there’s a flesh wound—3 to 4 inches—looks like it’s straight out of Hollywood, maybe a drop of blood or two.”

Air traffic was disrupted throughout the country, as both incoming and outbound Los Angeles flights were substantially delayed.

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