LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A suspect armed with an assault rifle shot his way through a security gate in Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport today, wounding about a half-dozen people and possibly killing a security agent before being shot and taken into custody.
The gunfire erupted around 9:30 a.m. inside the terminal that houses airlines such as Allegiant Air, Frontier, Spirit, Virgin America and JetBlue.
Patrick Gannon, chief of the Airport Police Department, said the suspect walked into the airport, pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and started shooting.
“He proceeded up into the screening area where TSA screeners are and continued shooting,” Gannon said, adding that the gunman “went past the screeners and back into the terminal itself.”
Gannon said police pursued the gunman, who was shot and taken into custody inside the terminal. The gunman’s condition was not immediately known.
Interim Los Angeles Fire Chief Jim Featherstone said paramedics treated seven people at the airport, and six were taken to area hospitals. One person apparently declined to be transported, fire officials said.
Officials at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center said it was treating three male patients, one in critical condition and two in fair condition. At least two other patients were believed to be at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, but their conditions were not immediately known. NBC4 reported that one patient who was taken to Harbor UCLA had died.
Multiple media outlets, citing unnamed sources, reported that one TSA agent was killed in the gunfire, but police would not confirm the reports.
The gunman was described by some witnesses as a young white male. Police and fire officials said they could not confirm reports that the gunman was an off-duty TSA agent.
Some initial reports indicated that a second suspect had been arrested, but Gannon said, “This was a lone shooter,” and the gunman “was the only person that was armed in this incident.”
David Bowdich, FBI special agent in charge, declined to provide any details of the investigation, but said, “At this point, we do not see any additional threats here at the airport.”
The outbreak of gunfire sparked chaos inside the terminal, as passengers scrambled to evacuate.
A witness told KNX radio that people began scrambling to evacuate the terminal when the shots rang out. She said some people were directed out through emergency exits onto the tarmac until they were picked up by buses and taken to another terminal.
Airline passenger Dana Starfield told KCAL9 she and other passengers hid in a closet at the terminal after the shots rang out.
“We were all just texting our families and where we were,” she told the station. “... I just let them know where I was and that I was OK.”
Century Boulevard was closed off leading into the airport, blocking all traffic into LAX, and motorists were advised to avoid the area. Traffic was at a standstill on streets heading toward the airport. Freeway exits near the airport were also closed.