Gunman Opens Fire At LAX Killing TSA Worker And Wounding Others - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

UPDATE: Gunman Opens Fire At LAX Killing TSA Worker And Wounding Others; Victim Identified

Posted: Updated:
Photo from LAX Photo from LAX

UPDATE: 

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Transportation Security Administration has identified a 39-year-old as the first officer killed in the line of duty in the agency's 12-year history.

The TSA says in a statement that Gerardo I. Hernandez is the officer who was slain by a gunman who opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday morning.

Two other TSA officers were wounded.

The gunman was wounded in a shootout with airport police and taken into custody.

The attack at the nation's third-busiest airport sent terrified travelers running for cover and disrupted more than 700 flights across the U.S.

TSA Administrator John Pistole said in a message to employees Friday evening that "no words can explain the horror that we experienced today."

Previous Coverage: 

UPDATE FROM NBC NEWS: A man pulled an assault rifle from a bag and shot his way through security at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, killing one Transportation Security Administration worker, wounding as many as three others and sending terrified travelers diving for cover and fleeing onto the tarmac, authorities and witnesses said.

The gunman, identified by law-enforcement officials as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia, was shot by law enforcement and taken into custody in critical condition. They believe he had anti-government views based on the material he was carrying, the officials said.

Federal officials told NBC News it was unclear whether the gunman was targeting the TSA or was trying to shoot his way through to get further into the airport.

One witness said the shooter, who calmly walking through the terminal with his weapon, approached him with a one-word question.

"All he asked was, 'TSA?'" Leon Saryan told MSNBC.

The shooting started at about 9:20 a.m. local time at Terminal 3, which serves Virgin America and other airlines. The gunman took out the rifle and opened fire at the security checkpoint, then went far into the terminal, where he was captured after exchanging fire with law enforcement, authorities said.

When the gunfire erupted, travelers who were waiting to snake through the security line suddenly had to abandon their suitcases and hit the ground.

"We were just standing there in line and somebody started shooting," said Nick Pugh, a witness, who told NBC Los Angeles that he heard eight to 10 shots. "Everyone dropped to the floor and started crawling along the ground."

The shooting brought one of the nation's busiest airports to a standstill.

The Federal Aviation Administration grounded flights at LAX, where 1,500 flights take off and land every day. Passengers heading there for departing flights were stuck in colossal traffic jams. Some abandoned their rides and rolled their suitcases the last distance to the airport.

Saryan said he was cowering in a corner when the gunman came over and asked whether he was with the TSA, even though he was in street clothes.

"He was calm. He was walking slowly," Saryan said. "He must have felt that he was in control, because he had his weapon and nobody else did at that time."

"But for the grace of God I would have been one of the fatalities," he said.

The airport said that seven people were injured in all, but the nature of the injuries was not clear. UCLA Medical Center said it had one patient in critical condition and two in fair condition. One of the TSA workers was shot in the leg, said Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.

Brian Adamick, an accountant who was waiting for a flight to Chicago, spoke with a TSA agent with a leg wound on one of the buses that sped to the tarmac to evacuate passengers taking cover there.

"His right ankle is injured and he gets on and sits in the seat next to me, and I said, ‘Are you OK?' He said, ‘I'm fine. I got shot. Don't worry, I've been shot before,'" Adamick told NBC News in a telephone interview.

"I said, let me take a look, and he pulls up the pant leg and there's a flesh wound — 3 to 4 inches — looks like it's straight out of Hollywood, maybe a drop of blood or two," he said.

Another witness told MSNBC that there was an initial round of shots, then a pause, then more shots. An airline worker told them, "Go out! Go out!" and people streamed down the stairs and onto the tarmac for safety, he said.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the shooting, the White House said in a statement.

In 2002, an Egyptian national opened fire at the El Al ticket counter at LAX, killing two Israelis before he was shot dead. Authorities ruled it a terrorist incident, even though the shooter was not tied to a known group.

PREVIOUS STORY:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire at the Los Angeles International Airport, killing a Transportation Security Administration employee and wounding two other people.
    
Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees in Washington, confirmed Friday that a TSA officer was killed.
    
He says the union's information comes from their local officials in Los Angeles.
    
The attack frightened passengers and disrupted flights nationwide.
    
Police said the unidentified suspect, who was apparently injured following an exchange of gunfire with officers, was in custody.

FROM NBC NEWS:

NBCNEWS.COM - A gunman shot and killed a Transportation Security Administration worker Friday at Los Angeles International Airport, federal authorities told NBC News. At least two other people, including a second TSA employee, were wounded, they said.

The authorities told NBC News that the gunman was in custody. It was not clear whether the shooter was among the wounded.

The shooting happened at a screening station where fliers show their IDs and boarding passes, said Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration. The agent was shot in the leg, he said.

Federal authorities told NBC News that the shooter appeared to have a rifle or other long gun.

Witnesses and police said that the shooting happened at about 12:20 p.m. ET at Terminal 3, which serves Virgin America, among other airlines. Nick Pugh told NBC Los Angeles that he was waiting in line for security on the upper mezzanine when he heard eight to 10 shots.

"We were just standing there in line and somebody started shooting," he said. "Everyone dropped to the floor and started crawling along the ground, abandoning their suitcases."

Another witness told MSNBC that there was an initial round of shots, then a pause, then more shots. An airline worker told them, "Go out! Go out!" the witness said. People streamed down the stairs and onto the tarmac for safety, he said.

Video from NBC Los Angeles showed emergency vehicles outside the terminal. The station reported that several people, including what appeared to be a TSA agent, had been loaded into ambulances.

The Federal Aviation Administration grounded flights taking off from LAX and those that were bound for LAX and had not already taken off. President Barack Obama was briefed on the shooting, the White House said in a statement.

In 2002, an Egyptian national opened fire at the El Al ticket counter at LAX, killing two Israelis before he was shot dead. Authorities ruled it a terrorist incident, even though the shooter was not tied to a known group.

LAX served about 64 million fliers last year. More than 1,500 flights take off and land there every day.

MORE DETAILS:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Authorities say a suspect is in custody after opening fire at the Los Angeles International Airport and injuring multiple people.
    
Los Angeles police Officer Norma Eisenman says officers responded to the incident Friday which occurred at 9:30 a.m. in terminal 3. Multiple people were hit by gunfire, she says but their condition is unknown.
    
She says the suspect exchanged fire with airport police and was taken into custody. The airport is being swept for precautionary measures and the bomb unit is on scene.
    
Airport staff evacuated travelers and flights were disrupted nationwide.

PREVIOUS STORY:

NBCNEWS.COM - A gunman opened fire Friday at Los Angeles International Airport, and a security agent was among those shot, federal authorities said. Federal officials told NBC News that the gunman was in custody and that at least three people were wounded. It was not clear whether the shooter was among the three.

The shooting happened at a screening station where fliers show their IDs and boarding passes, said Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration. The agent was shot in the leg, he said. Federal authorities told NBC News that the shooter appeared to have a rifle or other long gun.

Witnesses said that the shooting happened at Terminal 3, which serves Virgin America, among other airlines. Nick Pugh told NBC Los Angeles that he was waiting in line for security on the upper mezzanine when he heard eight to 10 shots."We were just standing there in line and somebody started shooting," he said. "Everyone dropped to the floor and started crawling along the ground, abandoning their suitcases." Another witness told MSNBC that there was an initial round of shots, then a pause, then more shots.

An airline worker told them, "Go out! Go out!" the witness said. People streamed down the stairs and onto the tarmac for safety, he said. Video from NBC Los Angeles showed emergency vehicles outside the terminal. The station reported that several people, including what appeared to be a TSA agent, had been loaded into ambulances.

The Federal Aviation Administration grounded flights taking off from LAX and those that were bound for LAX and had not already taken off. The airport said on its Twitter feed that an "incident" was underway and had begun at 12:30 p.m. ET. President Barack Obama was briefed on the shooting, the White House said in a statement.

In 2002, an Egyptian national opened fire at the El Al ticket counter at LAX, killing two Israelis before he was shot dead. Authorities ruled it a terrorist incident, even though the shooter was not tied to a known group. LAX served about 64 million fliers last year. More than 1,500 flights take off and land there every day.

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