Reports of a shooter inside the terminal of Los Angeles International Airport led to a mass panic yesterday (late Sunday) including people streaming onto the tarmac from inside the terminal.
Authorities in the meanwhile said the reports were false after investigating the entire facility and doing a security sweep with the support of K9 units.
The situation caused long delays especially after some passengers self-evacuated through various doors which allowed some of them to even reach the tarmac of the Terminal 4 where the incident took place.
NBC News (access here) reported about it and even had one of their staff coincidentally caught up in the situation.
Passengers at Los Angeles International Airport were seen running from terminals and onto a tarmac after police responded to 911 calls of shots fired at the facility, but police said the reports were unfounded and there was no shooting.
“Reports of a shooting incident at LAX have been proven to be loud noises only,” the Los Angeles Police Department said about 45 minutes after the reports sparked a panic at the airport. There was no shooting and no injuries, police said.
Police responded to multiple 911 calls from multiple locations at the airport about shooting at around 8:45 p.m. local time (11:45 p.m. ET), multiple law enforcement sources told NBC News. The 911 calls came from terminals 4, 7, and 8, law enforcement sources said.
People poured out of Terminal 4 onto the tarmac, and a security officer said shots were fired. One person said they heard “pops” in terminal 4 and others only heard the shouts of “run!”
This is a very strange situation given the structure of LAX Airport because these Terminals are completely separated from each other. How can a false alert get so out out control that people across terminals freak out and report things that actually haven’t been taking place.
NBC News anchor Lester Holt was at the airport and witnessed it first hand based on his twitter account.
Terminal 4 where American Airlines operates has a sliding door downstairs at the foot of an escalator where buses depart for the commuter terminal. It’s not mentioned how people got onto the tarmac but this is one way I could think of as all other doors should definitely be locked with no way to open them except by entering a code. There are employees guarding that sliding door but well…
The article goes on:
Police completed and initial sweep of the airport were conducting secondary K-9 sweeps late Sunday, Los Angeles Airport Police spokeswoman Alicia Hernandez said. People self-evacuated and were not ordered to do so by airport police, Hernandez said, conflicting reports on social media.
During the chaos, someone dressed in a dark costume was detained at the airport, law enforcement sources said. It was unclear whether the person in any way contributed to the panic.
The guy who was arrested reportedly wore a Zorro costume and carried a plastic sword. Something tells me his detention time was very brief!
This is a good example how fast news spread and what ‘might’ have happened is that people got these infos via Twitter and then carried the fear electronically from terminal to terminal. As I mentioned above I can see a slight way of people actually getting onto the tarmac but that causes more concern to me than a Zorro with a plastic sword.
Nevertheless, thankfully this was a false alert and nobody was injured or worse. Considering three years ago a TSA officer was killed during a shooting just here at LAX airport the fact that this was a fake alert shouldn’t be taken for granted under all circumstances. They are way too many crazy people in this world.