LOS ANGELES (AP) — A gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, killing a Transportation Security Administration employee and wounding two other people in an attack that 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.
Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees in Washington, confirmed Friday that a TSA officer was killed. Kauffman said the union's information comes from their local officials in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said the gunman pulled what he described as an "assault rifle" from a bag and began firing. "As you can imagine, a large amount of chaos took place in this entire incident," he said.
Some passengers who already had cleared security rushed onto the tarmac to evacuate, while others were locked down in airport restaurants and lounges. The airport was being swept for precautionary measures and the bomb unit was on scene.
Air traffic was affected nationwide as the FAA grounded flights that had not yet departed for LAX.
Witness Brian Keech said he heard "about a dozen gunshots" from inside a security gate at the terminal, which has been evacuated.
Ben Rosen was sitting at the Starbucks in Terminal 3 eating oatmeal at about 9:20 a.m. when he heard gunfire erupt and people start running in all directions and others crouching on the ground. Rosen got on the ground and another passenger said "don't worry we're safe."
Then more gunshots erupted. He grabbed his phone and tried to lie down as flat on the ground as he could. Police showed up with their guns drawn, shouting, "This is not a drill, hands up."
Everyone put their hands up and then were led out of the airport terminal to the international terminal, Rosen said.