Suspected Gunman In Custody After LAX Shooting

Nov 1, 2013

Update 4:23 p.m.: Law enforcement officials identify LAX shooting suspect as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia.

Update 2:49 p.m.: Union official: TSA agent killed in LAX shooting.

Update 2:20 p.m.: Police say 3 shot, including TSA agent, by gunman with semi-automatic weapon at LAX.

A suspected gunman was in custody Friday following a shooting at Los Angeles airport that left multiple people wounded and disrupted flights nationwide.

Gunshots were reported at Terminal 3. Los Angeles police Officer Norma Eisenman said the conditions of the injured people were unknown.

She says the suspect also exchanged fire with airport police. The airport was being swept for precautionary measures and the bomb unit was on scene.

Airport staff evacuated travelers and flights were disrupted nationwide.

Television images showed two people being wheeled away by firefighters. Triage stations also were seen.

Witness Brian Keech told The Associated Press he heard “about a dozen gunshots” from inside a security gate at the terminal, which has been evacuated.

The Federal Aviation Administration said a “ground stop” was in affect for all flights heading to Los Angeles, meaning planes in any other airport in the country can’t take off for the city, although some flights already in the air were allowed to land.

LAX air traffic controller Michael Foote said some flights were still being allowed to depart.

Foote said his colleagues in the control tower saw passengers spilling from the terminal onto the tarmac, “evacuating the building, getting out as fast as they could.” Officers eventually corralled them.

Other travelers described a chaotic scene as airport security staff evacuated terminals, including onto to the tarmac. Hundreds of people remained gathered outside next to airplanes as authorities investigated what happened.

“People started saying there’s a shooter, there’s a shooter,” said Natalie Morin, a senior at USC who was heading to San Francisco for a graduate school interview.

Emergency crews responded to a multi-patient incident, Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

Terminal 3 is home to Virgin America and other airlines.


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From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.


I'm Robin Young. It's HERE AND NOW.

In a few minutes, the BBC's Lyse Doucet reporting from Damascus, Syria.

HOBSON: But we'll start this hour in Los Angeles. There was a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport this morning. Officials say a gunman acted alone and is now in custody. There's a press conference going on right now. Officials have confirmed multiple injuries. We're going to listen in.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Are you saying you don't know who the shooter is?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Chief, how far, and, chief, was the target a shooter (unintelligible)?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Determined that suspect got back very far into a terminal. There's a Burger King that is quite a ways away from the screening station and he was able to get back there. I appreciate, I appreciate all the questions. We'll have more information here shortly. Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Thank you. I know a lot of people want to have other questions. We're going to say something briefly in Spanish by the Spanish press that's here. Other questions, folks can go offline. We will - I promise you, give you as much information...

HOBSON: OK. Let's cut away from that. We're joined from Los Angeles by Steve Chiotakis of KCRW. Steve, what more do we know based on what's been said at this press conference?

STEVE CHIOTAKIS, BYLINE: Well, what we've heard, Jeremy, today is that at least six people were injured. LASD is saying that six people, maybe seven being treated on the scene, and then six of them transported to hospitals, one of whom is in critical condition. One other person not transported; we don't know the condition of that person.

And there's a lot of confusion right now about whether or not the suspect was killed. There are reports - the L.A. Times reporting earlier today that the suspect was shot and killed. Now, we're hearing reports from the LAPD that the suspect was shot but not killed and is in custody.

HOBSON: And Steve, we're also hearing that a TSA officer was killed. Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees in Washington confirmed that But we haven't heard that from officials giving this press conference. Right?

CHIOTAKIS: Yeah. They're tip-toeing around this. So, I think they're trying to make sure that all caution is taken in this situation, so erroneous information, you know - and also reporting to next of kin. I mean, you have to think about that all well. So, I suspect that that confirmation will come. But police not saying that at this moment.

HOBSON: And what about the airport? This is one of the busiest airports in the country. There was a ground stop today because of this shooting. What is happened now?

CHIOTAKIS: So, the airport is allowing some flights to land. They're using the south airfield. LAX is this sprawling mass of, you know, aeronautic dynamics. So, you've got different runways. I think at least four or five of them, and the south runways are the ones that are operating right now. The north runway, which is adjacent to where Terminal 3 was - this is where the incident took place earlier - we've got a full investigation taking place there.

So no planes are allowed in on those runways, the northern runways. But the southern ones are being allowed to be used. And so we've got some flights coming in.

We just heard from the chair of the Los Angeles World Airports, which oversees not only LAX but a couple of other airports in the area as well, and she said, for the most part, look, if you have a flight coming in or out of L.A. today, it's going to be late.

YOUNG: Yeah. Steve, It's Robin here. And we heard in this press conference that this all started about 9:20 your time and that this shooter came into Terminal 3, pulled an assault rifle out of his bag - this is according to officials - and began to open fire in the terminal and kept going, proceeding into the screening area and continued shooting. And that officers from the L.A. airport then had to track the alleged shooter through the airport, engage him in gunfire. How were the passengers - this must have been just a phenomenal situation there.

CHIOTAKIS: A chaotic, a chaotic situation, Robin. I mean, when you've got passengers onto the tarmac of the airport. Now, think about that. I mean, only secure people are allowed onto the tarmac. And airport officials were sending people there to get away and out of harm's way. Apparently, if you heard from the police spokesperson just a moment ago on your air, he did penetrate the terminal, got past the - there were reports that this was an AR-15. This was a semiautomatic assault rifle.

HOBSON: Steve Chiotakis from KCRW in Los Angeles, updating us on a shooting that occurred there around 9:20-9:30 A.M. Pacific Time this morning. Police saying multiple injuries, and there is a report that a TSA officer was killed. And officials saying just moments ago that the suspect is in custody. Steve, thanks so much.

CHIOTAKIS: You bet, Jeremy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.