A shooting incident Friday morning at Los Angeles International Airport left one TSA employee dead, and several others wounded. One shooter is in custody, according to the LAPD. In a press conference on Friday afternoon, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the situation at LAX is now a "static" one, though the airport is was suffering from considerable delays hours after the incident. Following multiple media reports, the FBI identified the shooter as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia, an LA resident and U.S. citizen. Law enforcement officials said that they believe the incident was limited only to Terminal 3 of the airport, and to the single gunman in custody.
At about 9:30 on Friday morning, Ciancia walked into Terminal 3 of the airport, "pulled an assault rifle out of a bag, and began to open fire in the terminal," according to Patrick Gannon, Chief of Airport Police. He then moved to the TSA screening area and continued shooting, before moving into the airport beyond the security checkpoint, where he was engaged in gunfire, reportedly shot three times in the chest, and taken into custody by law enforcement officers.
There are some unconfirmed indications that the shooter may have specifically targeted TSA employees. The AP, for example, reported that the suspect "was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing a hand-written note that said he 'wanted to kill TSA and pigs,'" citing an anonymous law enforcement official familiar with the investigation. Keep in mind, however, that FBI officials leading the investigation had not released very much information on the shooter, including a possible motive. David Bowdich, special agent in charge FBI counterterrorism, said late on Friday afternoon that "we are currently investigating his background and more about him." Bowdich noted that Ciancia has a previous New Jersey address.
According to Pennsville, New Jersey Chief Allen Cummings, Paul Ciancia's father contacted local police on Friday afternoon. Here's Cummings's account, from the AP:
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 asked him for help in locating Paul, according to Cummings. The chief says he called Los Angeles police, which sent a patrol car to Ciancia's apartment. There, two roommates said they had seen him Thursday and that he was fine.
One TSA employee was killed in the shooting, according to the TSA. The LA county coroner confirmed the death and added that the single fatality was male, about 40 years old. He was not identified by officials. At least 7 were wounded in the shooting, some more seriously than others, and not all from gunshots. The wounded include multiple TSA officers. UCLA Medical Center said that the hospital took in three male victims from the shooting, two with gunshot wounds, and one with other unspecified injuries. Two are in fair condition and one is in critical condition. The LA Fire Department added on Friday that they "treated" seven people. Six were taken to hospitals, according to interim fire chief Jim Feathersone.
The FAA placed a ground stop on flights scheduled to take off for LAX soon after the incident. It's expected to be lifted at 7 p.m. eastern. In the meantime, LAX is still accepting incoming flights, but on a very limited schedule. The hold ups are expected to significantly delay hundreds of flights for several hours. Mayor Garcetti encouraged those with afternoon flights on Friday to stay away from the still chaotic scene at the airport if possible. Passengers are encouraged to check with their individual airlines for flight status. As of 7 p.m. eastern on Friday, all LAX terminals except for terminal 3 were either open or preparing to reopen. Terminal 3 will be shut for a while, according to the FBI.
The image at right isn't confirmed, but it comports with other on-scene photos. One eyewitness indicates that there were eight to ten shots fired, but that is disputed. And in case you were wondering, social media reports that a former government official is among those injured are false.
The LA Times got an incredible story from an eyewitness, who spoke with the wounded TSA agent.
The [agent], told him, “I got shot, I’m fine.” He told passengers not to worry about him and that he had been shot before, Adamick said.
After the gunfire broke out, passengers had little choice but to run out to the tarmac.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.