Gary Strauss, Chris Woodyard and William Welch
LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles International Airport was a scene of chaos Friday morning after a lone gunman opened fire, wounding a TSA agent and wounding or injuring at least six others. The incident disrupted flights, sent hundreds of passengers scurrying for cover and caused traffic gridlock in the surrounding area.
Scores of frightened passengers and eyewitnesses took to Twitter and Instagram, describing the ensuing mayhen after eight to 10 shots were fired in LAX Terminal 3 at about 9:20 P.T. Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said the suspect pulled an assualt rifle from a bag and opened fire, then opened fire a second time. Authorities engaged the suspect and took him into custody.
The Los Angeles County Coroner's office confirmed to USA TODAY that one person had been killed.
Mark Wheeler, spokesman for UCLA Medical Center, said the hospital had received three males from the LAX shooting. One is in critical condition and two in fair condition.
Dana Starfield, who was heading to Florida for her mother's retirement party, described the scene inside Terminal 3 to local station KCBS-TV. She said she heard a boom from behind her while standing in the security line. She said that because of the echo, it sounded louder than a gunshot, and she wasn't sure at first what the sound was coming from.
"We heard a boom directly behind us, echoing ... We heard someone scream, 'a gun, everybody get down, get down.' ... We just crawled through the security gate.''
Virgin Air employees guided her and others into a small room, where they attempted to block entry by moving a copying machine in front of the door. About 15 minutes later, SWAT teams came through and guided them to safety. "We heard someone say, 'They got the guy.' ''
"It was like a dream, a movie. It was intense. We all sort of panicked. I'm shaking and scared. I don't know if we're still safe," passenger Audrey Henry told Fox News after fleeing the terminal. Her husband, Mark, said the couple were unsure when they would be able to recover their baggage.
"We just ran," Mark Henry said. "It was pretty crowded."
Luke and Alexa Sieber were at the Frontier Airlines counter on a return trip from Mexico for their honeymoon when the shooting erupted. They ran south toward the airport axis, stopping to help a girl who was crying.
"A lot of people were confused and didn't know what was going on," they just saw the commotion, said Luke Seiber, a 25-year-old consultant.
Nick Pugh, who was to take a flight to New York City to watch Saturday's New York Marathon, told Fox News that he fled through an emergency exit to the tarmac. He was quickly detained by authorities. "They probably thought I was the shooter. They handcuffed me and told me not to move for about 10 minutes."