One person was left dead and several wounded on Friday morning after gunfire broke out at Los Angeles International Airport. At around 9.20am local time, a man entered LAX Terminal 3, pulled a high-powered rifle from a bag and opened fire close to a security checkpoint.
The suspect, later identified by the authorities as 23-year-old Los Angeles local Paul Ciancia, shot dead a Transport Security Administration (TSA) agent during the incident. After walking through the screening area into the terminal, where he continued to fire his weapon, the suspect was shot by other law enforcement officers not far from a branch of Burger King. Ciancia was said to be in hospital in a critical condition this afternoon.
The dead TSA agent was identified only as having been in his 40s. Police said at least three further TSA workers had been hurt in the multiple shooting. The LA Fire Department said seven people were injured in all, with six transported to nearby hospitals.
All roads leading in and out of LAX were closed, Terminals 2 and 3 were evacuated, and flights were grounded as law enforcement officers streamed into the airport. Eyewitnesses said many people ran out onto the tarmac on the runway side of the terminals to escape the chaos.
According to data from Airports Council International, LAX is the sixth busiest airport in the world, and served well over 63 million passengers in 2012. In spite of increased airport security over the past decade, guns are still regularly found in US travellers' hand luggage. Last week alone, the TSA recorded 39 firearms found at airport security checkpoints across the US, 32 of them loaded - and seven with rounds chambered.