People leave terminal 2 after a shooting incident at Los Angeles airport (LAX), California, on Nov. 1. Credit: Reuters
A Transportation Security Administration employee was killed and at least six other people were wounded in a shooting Friday morning at Los Angeles International Airport.
"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," Patrick Gannon, chief of the Los Angeles Airport Police said at a press conference. "He went into the screening area, past screeners and continued shooting into the airport itself."
Gannon said authorities believe the gunman acted alone, but would confirm nor deny the gunman's identity or his condition.
In an interview with CNN, U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, who represents a portion of southern California, identified the man as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia.
"He is an L.A. area resident," said Sanchez, a Democrat who serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security. Sanchez said the shooter was not a TSA employee, contrary to earlier reports.
The TSA said that multiple agents had been shot, one fatally. The agency did not identify the slain agent.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Coroner said it was handling one person who was killed in the shooting, a man approximately 40 years old who was not identified by name. It was not immediately clear if that person was the TSA agent.
Three male victims hurt in the incident were taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where one was listed in critical condition and two others in fair condition, said Mark Wheeler, a spokesman for the hospital.
The Los Angeles Fire Department treated seven patients, transporting six of them to hospitals, interim Chief Jim Featherstone said.
Three male victims hurt in the incident were taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where one was listed in critical condition and two others in fair condition, said Mark Wheeler, a spokesman for the hospital. Information was not released about the other people who were hurt.
"We were just standing there and someone started shooting," witness Nick Pugh told NBC Los Angeles. "I heard a total of maybe eight or 10 shots fired."
Alex Neumann told CNN that he was past a security checkpoint when he heard loud noises and screaming and saw people running.
"We were at the food court and all of a sudden I hear a big commotion and people started running. People were running and people getting knocked down," Neumann said. "Mayhem is the best way of describing it."
The incident prompted scenes of chaos at the airport, which halted departing flights and evacuated the terminal. Streets surrounding the airport were also shut down. [videoembed id=246758]
"Other than arriving flights, flight operations have been temporary held," airport spokeswoman Katherine Alvarado said in an emailed statement about an hour after the shooting. Airport officials said all flights taking off or landing at LAX would be impacted for an unknown amount of time.
Just weeks ago, two dry ice bombs exploded at the airport, with a third failing to detonate. Authorities said the incidents were intended as pranks.
On July 4, 2002, an Egyptian man shot and killed two people at the airport's El Al ticket counter before he was shot dead. Authorities ruled it a terrorist incident, even though the gunman was not tied to a known group.
More than 1,500 flights take off and land at LAX every day, serving about 64 million passengers annually.