LAX LATEST: LA to honor fallen TSA officer
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A suspected gunman was in custody following a shooting at Los Angeles airport that killed a TSA officer and wounded two others. This is what AP reporters on the scene Friday are learning about the events unfolding:
HONORS FOR SLAIN OFFICER
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has asked that flags on city buildings be flown at half-staff and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has asked officers to wear black bands on their badges to honor the TSA officer who was killed.
SLAIN OFFICER IDENTIFIED
The Transportation Security Administration has identified the officer killed at LAX as Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39. He’s the first officer killed in the line of duty in the agency’s 12-year history.
No other details were released about Hernandez or the two other TSA officers who were wounded.
TSA ADMINISTRATOR’S MESSAGE
In an email to TSA employees Friday evening, TSA Administrator John Pistole said he would be traveling to Los Angeles on Saturday to meet with the “family of our fallen comrade” and the injured employees who are recovering from their wounds. He’ll also spend time with the TSA workforce at LAX.
“Together, we will get through this,” Pistole wrote. “Our faith will guide us and our professionalism will ensure our ability to carry out our mission.”
OBAMA CALLS WITH CONDOLENCES
President Barack Obama called Pistole to express his condolences to the families and friends of the TSA officer who was killed and the two others who were wounded.
Obama said he is grateful for all the brave TSA personnel who protect the nation’s transportation systems, the White House said in a statement. Obama also spoke with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to express his gratitude for those who responded to the shooting.
NOTE CONTAINED HATE FOR TSA
A law enforcement official says the handwritten note in the suspected gunman’s bag refers to how he believed his constitutional rights were being violated by TSA searches and he’s a “pissed-off patriot” upset at former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
DETAILS ON INJURIES
Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Armando Hogan says five people were taken to hospitals after the shooting: the gunman, the TSA officer who died, two other people who were shot, and one person with a broken ankle. A sixth person was treated at the scene for ringing in the ears from gunfire.
The TSA said both surviving shooting victims are TSA officers.
SHOOTER HAD MORE AMMO
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says the airport shooter was carrying a lot of additional ammunition. “There were more than 100 more rounds,” he said.
PASSENGERS ON WAY BACK IN
As two terminals reopened, hundreds of passengers pulled rolling suitcases across a road outside the facilities, standing shoulder-to-shoulder across all four lanes. Motorcycle police with megaphones followed slowly behind, trying to herd them onto the sidewalk.
HUNDREDS OF FLIGHTS AFFECTED
Airport officials say 746 flights nationwide were affected by the incident. Some 46 were diverted, and others were held at LAX or at the originating airport. Terminal 3, where the shooting occurred, remains closed as the forensics investigation continues.
AIRPORT SLOWLY REOPENING
Employees are being let back into two closed terminals, and taxis and buses are again running on a loop through the airport. In addition, the FAA has dropped its “ground stop” order, meaning airliners in other cities are allowed to resume flying to LAX. Nearly 200 flights were cancelled and others were diverted.
MORE ON VICTIMS
One of the victims taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center arrived without signs of life, says trauma surgeon David Plurad. Doctors worked for over an hour to try to revive the man, but were unsuccessful. He died from gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen. Another man was shot in the shoulder and is expected to survive.
Another person was released from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The hospitals did not identify the patients, citing privacy issues.
SHOOTER’S FATHER WAS CONCERNED
A New Jersey police chief says the suspect had apparently made references to suicide. Pennsville Chief Allen Cummings says Paul Ciancia’s father had called him Friday saying another of his children had received a text message from the suspect “in reference to him taking his own life.” Cummings says the elder Ciancia, also named Paul, asked him for help locating his son.
HOTELS FLOODED WITH TRAVELERS
Travelers by the hundreds have streamed into hotels near LAX. The lobbies of the Sheraton and Radisson at the airport’s entrance overflowed onto sidewalks. Ronald Dauzat, owner and headmaster of a Los Angeles private school, was on his way to Berlin for an educational conference. He had resigned himself to spending most of the day at the Sheraton. “I’m dealing with it the best I can,” he said. “We just have to wait it out.”
FIRST TSA OFFICER KILLED
Union and TSA officials say the TSA officer shot at LAX was the first ever killed in the line of duty. J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, says the officer was one of the behavioral detection officers stationed throughout the airport looking for suspicious behavior.
SOURCE: NOTE THREATENED `TSA AND PIGS’
A law enforcement official tells The Associated Press that 23-year-old suspect Paul Ciancia is from New Jersey and 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.
AT THE HOSPITAL
Three people are being treated at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
A hospital official says one was in critical condition and two were in fair condition. Two were wounded by gunshots and the other suffered other injuries. All are male.
Dr. Lynne McCullough, an emergency medicine physician, says the hospital was capable of taking up to 50 patients. “As it turned out, very thankfully, we received only three” patients, she said.
CELEBS AT LAX
James Franco was among the travelers caught up in the chaos. The actor tweeted that “some (expletive) shot up the place.” His publicist confirmed Franco was on a flight that landed shortly after the shooting occurred. Singer Nick Jonas tweeted about waiting on board a plane and said he was praying for the victims.
Law enforcement officials identify shooting suspect as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia.
LATEST ON VICTIMS
The Transportation Security Administration says multiple officers with the agency were shot, one fatally. The agency declined to provide further information, saying additional details would be given by the FBI and police.
UNION: SHOOTER NOT TSA AGENT
Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 45,000 TSA screeners, says the airport shooter was not a TSA officer.
PARKING LOT SEARCH
Police tell KNX Radio that officers are looking at the hundreds of vehicles in the parking structure near Terminal 3 but weren’t sure how the shooter got to the airport.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says it has increased its airport patrols as a precaution in the wake of the LAX shooting. Chief Security Officer Joseph Dunne says the stepped-up patrols are not expected to affect flight operations.
BAM, BAM, BAM
Xavier Savant was waiting in the security line at the terminal where the shooting occurred and he and other passengers dropped to the floor in panic. He described it as a “bam, bam, bam” burst of gunfire.
“We just hit the deck. Everybody in the line hit the floor and shots just continued,” he said.
He said the shots subsided and people bolted through the metal detectors and ran into the terminal, eventually making their way out to the tarmac.
“My whole thing was to get away from him,” said Savant, an advertising creative director in Hollywood who was heading to New York City with his family.
Ben Rosen, 30, was sitting at the Starbucks in Terminal 3 eating oatmeal when he heard gunfire erupt and people start running in all directions and crouching on the floor.
Police arrived with guns drawn and shouted, “This is not a drill, hands up,” he said. Everyone raised their hands and were led out of the terminal.
As they were led out, they saw broken glass from a window that looked like it’d been shot out. Rosen left his bag behind.
“It was scary. I’ve never experienced anything like this before,” he said. “I definitely felt underprepared. In retrospect, you have all these fire drills in school but you don’t really have gunman drills.”
DISBELIEF IN TERMINAL
Grant Imahara of the Discovery show “Mythbusters” was in an airport lounge area when he heard gunfire in the terminal and saw police and terrified passengers react. “It was fairly tense, and particularly after we heard the shots ring out, like `oh my God this is really happening,'” he said.
LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon said actions of responding officers were heroic. “They did not hesitate, they went after this individual, they confronted this individual in our airport,” Gannon says.
START OF SHOOTING
Gannon says the gunman entered the terminal, pulled a rifle from a bag and began shooting. The gunfire continued at a screening checkpoint before he entered a secured area. Officers took him into custody after a shootout. “As you can imagine, a large amount of chaos took place in this entire incident,” he said.
SEVEN PEOPLE TREATED
Interim Los Angeles Fire Chief Jim Featherstone says paramedics treated seven people at the scene, and six were taken to hospitals.
Gannon says there was a lone shooter who approached a TSA agent who was checking passenger documents and opened fire.
TSA OFFICER KILLED
Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees in Washington, confirmed that a TSA officer was killed in the incident at Los Angeles International Airport. He said the union’s information comes from their local officials in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urges public to stay away from the airport for the time being.
Evacuated passengers were loaded onto buses by the dozens, while others decided to walk off the airport grounds.
People trailing rolling suitcases were seen on the normally quiet streets and sidewalks outside LAX.
Brian Livesay, 44, said when he arrived on a business trip from Atlanta the airport seemed unusually quiet. The film and TV production designer didn’t realize there was a problem until he saw heavily armed police on the airport beltway. He decided to walk the three or so miles to the rental car facilities.
“If there was anything moving on four wheels besides a police car, I would be in a cab,” he said. “I have a room full of CBS executives waiting for me.”
Flights heading for Los Angeles, which had not yet taken off, were held at their gates by the Federal Aviation Administration. Others in the air _ including three JetBlue flights from the East Coast _ diverted to other airports.
Flight tracking site FlightAware.com said that as of 11 a.m. PDT, there were 12 flight cancellations and 132 flight delays in Los Angeles.
Travelers hoping to fly out are unable to reach Los Angeles airport because of road closures.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)