One Transportation Security Administration official was killed and at least three persons injured after a man armed with a high-powered rifle opened fire at Terminal 3 of Los Angeles airport (LAX) at 9:30 a.m. local time on Friday.
LAX officials said via their Twitter account within an hour of the shooting that although there were “multiple injuries,” the suspect was in police custody. Apart from arriving flights, flight operations were said to be “temporarily held.”
Speaking at a media briefing outside the airport shortly after the incident Patrick Gannon, Chief of Police at LAX, said that at approximately 9:15 a.m. a man in Terminal 3 pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and started shooting, at one point passing TSA screeners at a security checkpoint.
Media reports quoted witnesses saying that “about a dozen shots” had been fired after a man revealed a concealed rifle at security checkpoint, prompting a response from armed officers at the scene.
After the man then moved back through the terminal, continuing to shoot, the police tracked and engaged him in gunfire, Chief Gannon said, adding, that there was “a lot of chaos through the incident.” He said the police believed the suspect to be a “lone shooter.”
The police will now turn the investigation over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Chief Gannon noted, and the multiple victims who had been shot had been transferred out for treatment
Although it is unconfirmed, the Los Angeles Times newspaper said on Twitter that sources had said that the alleged gunman was a TSA employee at LAX and that he was now dead.
Reports quoted police saying that three people had been injured although it was unclear whether the gunman was among those. At least seven persons had been treated for injuries according to James Featherstone, Acting Los Angeles Fire Chief. FBI Special Agent David Bowdich said, “At this point we do not see any additional threats at the airport.”
U.S. President Barack Obama has been briefed on the security incident and the White House was in touch with law enforcement, according to a White House spokesman.
Live television shots of the scene outside LAX showed multiple people being evacuated or exiting the building and traffic jams clogging the entry and exit roads. Several patients on stretchers being taken into ambulances could be seen.
ABC news reports quoted Los Angeles Police Department officers saying that they were on “tactical alert due to a major incident” at the airport and the fire department said they were assisting at a multi-patient incident.
Updates would be posted to the LAX Twitter account, @LAX_Official, said Gina Marie Lindsey, Executive Director of LA World Airports.