LAX shooting: Suspect, slain TSA officer ID'd; 7 injured in Terminal 3 (updates)

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The FBI confirmed that the suspect in a shooting at LAX Friday is a 23-year-old Los Angeles resident originally from New Jersey. A TSA officer is dead, and multiple people were shot after a gunman opened fire in Terminal 3 of Los Angeles International Airport on Friday morning before airport police were able to take the suspect — believed to be acting alone — into custody. Six people were transported to area hospitals. The incident resulted in evacuations, restrictions on air travel and closures of streets around the airport.

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Highlights 

Update 7:45 p.m.: TSA identifies slain officer as Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39

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.

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."

—Associated Press

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Update 7 p.m. Eyewitness account of LAX shooting from a 16-year-old

Ricky Angiolini, 16, tells KPCC that he was about to fly out to Chicago to meet up with his dad and look at Notre Dame. He just moved to the United States from Italy, and they were scheduled to tour the campus and then go to a football game.

Angiolini was by the escalators near a TSA checkpoint when he looked up and saw the alleged shooter.

"I put my bag, and my shoes, and my computer in a container, and I just hear gunshots going on," Angiolini said.

Everyone ducked as Angiolini hid behind a ledge.

"The gun shooting stops for a second, and he comes up the escalator. He was extremely calm," Angiolini said. "He just came like a regular flyer would, just came through that door with his gun."

Angiolini said the man was wearing jeans and a plain shirt, not describing him as dressed like a TSA agent, as did some early reports.

"It was extremely close" when shots were fired, Angiolini said. "Maybe 15 feet. It was so loud. I was right there."

Angiolini said things got even more frightening, with the alleged shooter coming within 5 to 10 feet.

"He looked straight at me, and I looked straight at him. That was the scariest moment for me," Angiolini said.

"He's just reloading his gun, and I think to myself, 'All right, this is the moment,'" Angiolini said. "I got to run now, or I stay in here with this guy. So I sprint out the nearest exit."

He said that exit led to the tarmac, where he saw cop cars coming. Cops made another person who came out hit the ground, but after realizing he wasn't a threat, the police made their way inside, according to Angiolini.

Angiolini said he heard about 10 gunshots fired from inside, then no more.

Before exiting, Angiolini said the scene was chaotic.

"People were screaming, running in all different directions. It was so bad," Angiolini said. "No one knew what to do. I was one of the first people to notice the exit, so thanks to my exiting, other people saw the exit and came out."

Unfortunately, Angiolini said he doesn't think he'll make it to Notre Dame this weekend, but did have one thing to look forward to.

"My mom's waiting for me right now at In-N-Out on Sepulveda."

Nick Roman with Mike Roe

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4:55 p.m. Armed officers moved from being stationed at podiums earlier this year; suspect had more than 100 additional rounds

Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, told KPCC’s Rina Palta that earlier this year, there was a policy change and "officers were no longer stationed at podiums" at LAX.
 
The podiums are where TSA agents check your ID and boarding pass, and pass you on to the X-ray screening machines.

In an afternoon press conference, Mayor Eric Garcetti said, "I'll say one thing that I think is all right to release — that there [were] additional rounds that this gunman had. And the fact that these officers were able to neutralize the threat as they did — there were more than 100 more rounds that could have literally killed everyone in that terminal today. If it were not for their actions there could have been a lot more damage."
 
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, armed officers were stationed at podiums. McClain says that was the norm until earlier this year.

"One of the lessons of 9/11 was the need to work seamlessly across jurisdictions," Garcetti said at the press conference. "Ironically, we had the FBI director here earlier today. One of the things he expressed was how well this region works together."
 
McClain said the general trend nationwide has been to pull armed officers from the podiums, and that LAX had been one of the few remaining airports to have them.
 
McClain also said that while there are no armed officers stationed at the screening areas, they pass by them as part of their regular patrol routes, and there must be officers within five minutes of any spot in the airport at any given time.

At the afternoon press conference, Garcetti said that he'd just spoken with President Obama, who expressed his sympathies and ensured Garcetti that any needed aid would be provided by the federal government. He also said TSA administrator John Pistol would be coming out to Los Angeles to visit the scene Saturday.

Garcetti said that suspect Paul Anthony Ciancia is a Los Angeles resident, though his family lives in New Jersey.

David Bowdich, FBI special agent in charge, said that some of the injuries people sustained occurred as part of their trying to escape the gunman.

Bowdich remained tightlipped about many of the details of the case. "I know you want all the facts, we can't provide those to you at this point. We're not going to give any more at this point in the investigation," Bowdich said.

According to a press release from UCLA, one of the patients injured in the shooting has been released from UCLA Medical Center. One remains in critical condition, the other in fair condition.

Rina Palta with Hayley Fox, Michelle Lanz & Mike Roe

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3:22 p.m. Suspect identified: Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23; NJ police: Dad called, worried about son

FBI spokeswoman Lourdes Arocho has confirmed to KPCC's Erika Aguilar that the suspect in the LAX shooting is Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23.

Ciancia sent a sibling a text message mentioning suicide, leading their father to seek authorities' help in finding him, a New Jersey police chief said Friday, the Associated Press reports. 

Paul Ciancia's father called Pennsville Police Chief Allen Cummings early Friday afternoon saying another of his children had received a text message from the 23-year-old "in reference to him taking his own life," the chief told AP.

The elder Ciancia asked for help in locating Paul, Cummings said, according to AP. The chief called Los Angeles police, which sent a patrol car to Ciancia's apartment. It wasn't clear whether the police visited before or after the airport shooting.

"Basically, there were two roommates there" Cummings said, AP reports. "They said, 'We saw him yesterday and he was fine.'"

RELATEDLAX shooting: Delays expected through weekend; here's what you need to know

He told Cianci's father that because of his son's age, he couldn't take a missing persons report, according to AP.

The Pennsville police department has had no dealings with the younger Ciancia, Cummings said, AP reports.

Outside the father's home Friday in Pennsville — in southern New Jersey across the Delaware River from Wilmington, Del. — a police cruiser blocked the long driveway to the home, according to AP, which isn't visible from the road.

Neighbor Josh Pagan, 17, said that he would sometimes encounter Ciancia at orthodontist appointments, AP reports, but that it had been at least two years since the last one.

"He was never weird toward me. He never gave me any weird vibes," he said, according to AP, adding that in the 10 years he's lived across the street from the Ciancia family "they've been nothing but nice to us."

Ciancia's father owns an auto body shop, Cummings said, AP reports.

"I've been here 23 years and they are a good family," he said, according to AP.

Erika Aguilar with AP

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Update 3:11 p.m. TSA union president: Suspect was not a TSA employee

TSA union president J. David Cox Sr. said at a press conference that the suspected shooter at LAX Friday morning was not a TSA employee, contrary to earlier rumors. Cox said the TSA agent who was killed was a behavioral detection officer at LAX. He said those are TSA officers that stand around and observe, as well as making conversations with passengers to make sure there's nothing suspicious. 

The TSA agent who was killed is the first TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty, Cox said.

TSA agents are not armed, Cox said, adding that that's not their job; rather, at LAX, that's up to the LAPD. Cox said he didn't know if they're going to "get into" TSA officers carrying weapons. Cox said the TSA has never lobbied for the right to carry guns.

"They’re there to screen the American public, to keep us safe on the airlines," Cox said.

Cox said that several agents who work in Terminal 3 LAX are traumatized and have asked to be transferred elsewhere at the airpot. He said to imagine you were at work and someone else doing the same kind of work was shot and killed.

“For someone to come in with a gun, and to begin shooting, I’m not sure any of us can be prepared for that," Cox said.

Cox said the officer who was killed had been transferred recently from Montana. He wasn't identified, pending notification of the officer's next of kin.

Cox said they would like TSA officers to be able to arrest people, particularly with an increasing number of assaults against TSA agents, but that at the time, in order to do so, they have to call on law enforcement.

Cox defended what he said was the importance of having government workers rather than contract workers at airports. He said that austerity was a problem for the TSA and that airports were understaffed due to sequestration.

According to Cox, 2,157 TSA employees work at LAX.

Milton Poole from South Central Los Angeles was supposed to fly to Little Rock Friday.

“I’m here — stuck," Poole said. He said he arrived at 9 a.m. and was standing in line for about 10 minutes when he heard two shots.

"I started running and then, all of a sudden, about five seconds later I heard about 10 shots," Poole said. “I was just thinking run ... so that’s what I did.”

“Everybody was hiding under chairs and lying down," Poole said. "I know from recent shootings that they’ve been following the people. So, I just kept running and trying to get out of the building — not trying to get trapped in the building with the guns.”

He said he ran all the way to Terminal 1, leaving his stuff in Terminal 3.

“I have a laptop, clothes, my phone charger — that’s about it; that’s my life though," Poole said. “I don’t want anybody to steal it.”

Poole said he lives in an area where guns have been an issue before.

"Where I live at there’s a lot of shootings over there. So, that’s why when I heard the first two shots I knew already it was a gunshot.”

Kitty Felde, Josie Huang & Mae Ryan

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Updated 2:17 p.m. Video of passengers waiting at LAX post-shooting

KPCC's Mae Ryan shot video of passengers waiting for their flights at Terminal 1 at LAX after a shooting Friday morning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuuEtAprh7s

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Updated 1:23 p.m. Shooter made it to Burger King near terminal gates

The chief of airport police said at a Friday press conference that the shooter at LAX's Terminal 3 made it all the way to the Burger King deep inside Terminal 3, past security and near gates.

The shooter opened fire at a security checkpoint. The Burger King is in the terminal's food court, which is number 6 on the below map.

Maps of Terminal 3, where the shooting occurred

Three male patients were sent from the airport to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, according to officials at a hospital press conference. One was in critical condition, while two others were fair, officials said. They also said that two have gunshot wounds, while the other has other injuries they wouldn't specify.

Dr. Lynne McCullough said the hospital has contacted families. She said the ER was prepared for victims with "plenty of staff" and "plenty of blood."

TIMELINE: LAX shooting at Terminal 3

The Red Cross and other support services have been deployed to LAX, reports Mayor Eric Garcetti via Twitter. Water is being distributed to everyone outside and passengers inside have access to food and beverages.

Mike Roe, Hayley Fox & Kristen Lepore

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Updated 12:58 p.m.: 1 dead, multiple people shot, injured

One person is dead and multiple people were shot after a gunman opened fire in Terminal 3 of Los Angeles International Airport.

The Transportation Security Administration released the following statement: 

“Earlier this morning, a shooting occurred at Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport. Multiple Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) were shot, one fatally. Additional details will be addressed by the FBI and local law enforcement who are investigating the shooting.”

Police have said the suspect is in custody. The fire department treated seven patients, and six were transported to area hospitals, according to James Featherstone of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

At 9:20 a.m., a person pulled an assault rifle from a bag and began shooting in the terminal, the gunfire striking and wounding several people, said LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon in a press briefing near the airport on Friday afternoon.

RELATED: Social media reactions to the LAX shooting

Airport police responded and tracked the suspect through the airport and engaged him with gunfire, Gannon said.

At this point, it is believed the suspect acted alone and that the incident was limited to Terminal 3, he said.

The FBI has taken the lead on the investigation.

— KPCC staff

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Updated 12:06 p.m.: Multiple people shot, shooter acted alone, officials say

Multiple people were shot on Friday when a gunman opened fire at a security checkpoint in Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport, police said.

LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon said that it appeared the gunman was acting alone and indicated that victims had been transported to local hospitals.

The shooting began at 9:20 a.m. in Terminal 3 involving what police believe was a lone shooter.

A person “pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and began to open fire in the terminal," said LAX police chief Patrick Gannon speaking at a press briefing Friday afternoon. "He proceeded up into the screening area where TSA screeners are and continued shooting and went past the screeners into the aiport itself."

Gannon added: "Personnel officers from the LA airport police responded immediately to the calls. They tracked the individual through the airport and engaged him in gunfire in terminal 3 and were able to successfully take him into custody. As you can imagine, a large amount of chaos took place during this entire incident."

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Updated 11:23 a.m.: 'Blood on the ground'

A suspect is in custody and multiple injuries reported after a gunman opened fire at a security checkpoint in Terminal 3 of Los Angeles International Airport.

Witness Tim Daley, who was in the Virgin lounge just above where the shooting took place, described a scene of panic and what appeared to be an AR-15 rifle.

"I can see what looks like an AR15 and 3 clips — it looks like blood on the ground. It's funny because when you're in the movies when guns go off people are macho, but people freaked out they didn't know what to do," Daley said.

Meanwhile, KPCC's Corey Moore reports from Century Boulevard that the street has cleared considerably in the last hour. Moore said he thinks "police have diverted traffic down the opposite direction and described seeing people "texting, walking around. People are getting out of their cars, rolling down Century blvd trying to get a back-up plan, some are sitting on the curb not sure exactly what to do."

Marriott "has let people park temporarily until they decide a backup plan," Moore said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti was tweeting from the scene:

— KPCC staff

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Updated 11:02 a.m.: Suspect in custody

Detective Gus Villanueva of the Los Angeles Police Department told NBC4 that police believe they have a suspect in custody after a gunman opened fire in Terminal 3 of L.A. International Airport.

Villanueva said officers are sweeping through the terminal to make sure there are no other gunmen.

— KPCC staff

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Updated 10:52 a.m.: LAPD on tactical alert

The Los Angeles Police Department's West and Central bureaus are on tactical alert, police told KPCC.

A tactical alert means that no officers on duty can go home until allowed by a supervisor. It also means that officers will be dispatched to the most serious calls first.

The rest of the city is on a modified tactical alert.

Meanwhile, KPCC's Brian Watt confirms that planes have been landing at the airport.

"I have definitely seen planes coming — probably not with the same frequency of landings that usually I see when I'm driving this road, but definitely some planes have been arriving… I can't say that I've seen any planes leave from the airport area." 

KPCC's Corey Moore reports that police have completely blocked off Century Boulevard.

"(Traffic) is not moving at all. It's completely a standstill," said Moore, who is en route to the scene.

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Updated 10:43 a.m.: Obama briefed

President Barack Obama has been briefed on the reported shooting at Los Angeles International Airport.

The White House says the Los Angeles Police Department is leading the response and investigation into the shooting, and administration officials are in touch with federal and local partners.

The White House says it is urging people to listen to authorities and follow directions from first responders on site.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey called the shooting a multi-patient incident.

— Associated Press

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Updated 10:31 a.m.: Outgoing flights on hold

All flight operations, with the exception of arriving flights, are temporarily on hold, LAX officials say.

All upper level roadways for departures have been temporarily blocked by law enforcement, according to Katherine Alvarado, an airport spokeswoman.

— KPCC staff

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Updated 10:23 a.m.: Witness reports 8 to 10 shots fired

One witness described hearing eight to 10 shots fired in two bursts. Nick Pugh said he had just been dropped off at the main entrance and was up on the upper mezzanine when he heard the shots from just below near the security checkpoint.

"It sounded just like a gun and I basically — everybody dropped to the floor and started crawling on the ground, but there was no way to go. Luckily I was by an emergency exit," he said.

Pugh said he ran across the tarmac, when a line of police stopped him as a possible suspect. He was released after about 10 minutes.

Mayoral spokeswoman Vicki Curry confirms Mayor Eric Garcetti is en route to LAX with police Chief Charlie Beck.

— KPCC staff

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Updated 10 a.m.: Shots were fired at LAX Friday morning at a checkpoint, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration confirmed to KPCC.

The spokesman was unable to confirm which terminal was affected, but airport officials have said a police incident began about 9:30 a.m. at Terminal 3.

Terminal 3 has been evacuated. KPCC is checking on whether flights in and out of the airport have been affected. Airlines potentially affected include Allegiant Air, Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit, Virgin America and Virgin Australia.

Todd Friedman, an attorney flying from LAX to San Francisco, told KPCC he was at the Virgin America ticket counter in Terminal 3 when the incident took place. He said he ran into a ticket office and hid with about 20 other people, many of them airline employees.

"It’s scary, but people were trying to stay as calm as possible," Friedman said. 

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9:47 a.m.: CBS Los Angeles and other media outlets are reporting that an incident at LAX has prompted the evacuation of Terminal 3.

We're working to confirm the details and will be updating this page as the story develops.

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An earlier version of this story had a headline saying incorrectly that seven people were shot. It also incorrectly said that the suspect was a behavioral inspection officer, rather than the TSA officer who was killed. KPCC regrets the error.

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