By Dana Feldman
A GUNMAN opened fire with an assault rifle in a terminal of Los Angeles International airport on Friday, killing a Transportation Security Agent and wounding at least six other people before he was shot and captured, authorities said.
The incident prompted scenes of chaos at the airport, which halted flights and evacuated the terminal. Streets surrounding the airport were also shut down.
“An individual came into Terminal 3 of this airport, pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and began to open fire in the terminal,” Patrick Gannon, chief of the Los Angeles Airport Police said at a press conference.
The US Transportation Security Administration said that multiple agents had been shot, one fatally. The agency did not identify the slain agent.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Coroner said it was handling one person who was killed in the shooting, a man approximately 40 years old who was not identified by name. It was not immediately clear if that person was the TSA agent.
A Los Angeles fire department spokesman said seven people were hurt and that six of them were taken to area hospitals.
Los Angeles police spokeswoman Officer Norma Eisenman said a suspect had been taken into custody and was believed to be the only person involved in the shooting.
Three male victims hurt in the incident were taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where one was listed in critical condition and two others in fair condition, said Mark Wheeler, a spokesman for the hospital.
The condition of the other victims or the gunman was not immediately clear.
Passenger Robert Perez told a local CBS affiliate that airport security agents had come through the terminal shouting that a man had a gun.
“I heard popping and everybody dropped to the ground,” Perez said.
Alex Neumann told cable network CNN that he was in an area inside the airport past a security checkpoint when he heard loud noises and screaming and saw people running in a scene that amounted to mayhem.
“We were at the food court and all of a sudden I hear a big commotion and people started running. People were running and people getting knocked down,” Neumann said, adding that he heard screams. “Mayhem is the best way of describing it.”
Television images showed at least one person being loaded into one of several ambulances at the scene, and passengers were seen being evacuated from the area.
Footage showed emergency responders setting up what appeared to be a triage area outside an airport terminal.
“The general public is being held back… Other than arriving flights, flight operations have been temporary held,” airport spokeswoman Katherine Alvarado said in an emailed statement.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the incident and White House officials are in touch with law enforcement officials on the ground, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters