LOS ANGELES — A federal law enforcement official confirmed that police have identified the suspect who allegedly opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport today as Paul Ciancia.
The official could not confirm Ciancia’s age. The official said police were looking at information that Ciancia “wasn’t a fan of the TSA.”
Authorities believe that Ciancia arrived at a TSA screening area in Terminal 3 at 12:20 p.m., pulled a rifle out of his bag and started shooting. He made his way past the security checkpoint into the terminal and continued shooting.
He was eventually shot and apprehended by authorities elsewhere in the terminal. He is in critical condition.
“This act of violence reminds us of the risks the brave men and women of TSA face every day as they work to protect the traveling public,” acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Rand Beers said in a statement.
“The thoughts and prayers of the entire department go out to the family of the Transportation Security Administration employee who lost their life in the senseless shooting at Los Angeles International Airport earlier today, as well as the additional individuals, including TSA employees, who were injured in the incident,” Beers said.
The attack caused widespread chaos at the airport, with flights delayed and thousand of passengers left stranded on the streets in and around the airport. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged people to avoid LAX, including those who have flights this afternoon.
Authorities said the gunman fired at several locations in Terminal 3 before police shot him.
The motive for the shooting was unclear. A federal law enforcement official said the gunman was a ticketed passenger entering the airport. Los Angeles Police Department anti-terrorism officials were on the scene, but sources said they believed the suspect acted alone and was not tied to any known terrorist group.
At a news conference, the Los Angeles Fire Department said it treated seven people at the scene and transported six to local hospitals. The TSA said “multiple” agents were hurt in the incident.
At Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Lynne McCullough told reporters that the hospital was treating three adult males. One was in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds, she said, and another was in fair condition with gunshot wounds. The third victim was in fair condition with unspecified injuries.
The gunshot wounds were in “a variety of areas” of their bodies, McCullough said.
“Our hearts go out to the families” of the victims, McCullough said.
Patrick Gannon, the LAX police chief, said the gunman entered the terminal, pulled an assault rifle out of his bag and began firing. He moved into the screening area and continued shooting, Gannon said. He got past the checkpoint and moved further into the terminal.
Authorities tracked him down and shot him near a Burger King.
Vernon Cardenas, 45, of West Hollywood, Calif., said he was at the airport on his way to Philadelphia when the shooting occurred.
“Sitting down, all of a sudden, literally just out of the blue, you hear a rumble in the background, and a couple of seconds later people are running at me,” said Cardenas, who does casting for the Fox television show “MasterChef.” He described the scene as “mayhem,” with couples crying and parents who couldn’t find their children.
Brian Adamick, 43, said he was boarding a Spirit Airlines flight to Chicago at Gate 32 when a commotion erupted.
He said people were running through the terminal, away from a security area. Adamick said he went through an emergency exit downstairs onto the tarmac with several other passengers.
“While I was on the tarmac, I heard two gunshots from the same area where the people had been running and screaming,” he said.
A few minutes after he got outside, he said buses showed up to help evacuate passengers. He said he saw a wounded TSA agent board one of the buses. The man’s ankle was bloody: “it looked like it was straight out of the movies,” Adamick said.
The man 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.
A White House official said President Barack Obama had been informed of the incident: “The president has been briefed about the shooting at LAX. We will continue to stay in touch with our federal and local partners. The LAPD is leading the response and investigation. We urge citizens to listen to the authorities and follow directions from the first responders on site. The president will continue to receive briefings throughout the day.”