A lone gunman opened fire Friday at Los Angeles International Airport, police say. Police fired on the alleged shooter, who is now in police custody. The attack left one TSA officer dead and at least seven people needing medical treatment (including the shooter), officials said. The shooting forced the evacuation of a terminal and more than 45 flights into and out of LAX have been cancelled.
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
And we begin this hour in Los Angeles, where a TSA agent is confirmed dead and at least six people injured in today's shooting at LA International Airport. A gunman entered Terminal 3 at LAX at about 9:20 this morning, local time. Authorities say he pulled an assault rifle from a bag and started shooting. He went through the TSA screening area and continued shooting into the airport itself. Law enforcement followed him. This is Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI: Airport police officers engaged the suspect, opened fire, wounded him and took him into custody. The suspect has been identified as Paul Anthony Ciancia, or Ciancia, 23, a resident of Los Angeles.
SIEGEL: NPR's Kirk Siegler is at LAX and joins us now. And, Kirk, let's start with this young man, identified, as we just heard, as the suspect in this attack. What do we know about Paul Anthony Ciancia?
KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Well, Robert, we're starting to find out a little bit more information as details start to trickle in. As we heard the mayor say there, he's 23, he's a resident of Los Angeles, originally from New Jersey. His father in New Jersey had reportedly been in touch with law enforcement there and had been concerned about his son's mental state. But at a news conference this afternoon, law enforcement officials, including an FBI official there, refused to elaborate on details.
Now, here in LA, though, we do know that law enforcement is continuing to gather facts on a motive. A federal law enforcement source tells NPR that there's no al-Qaida connection with this incident, but authorities are exploring whether the suspect had, quote, anti-government views, based on material found at the scene there in Terminal 3. Robert it's, you know, safe to say we can expect to learn more about Paul Anthony Ciancia in the coming days at least.
SIEGEL: Well, let's talk more about the details of the attack. A gunman, presumably Ciancia, makes it past the TSA screening area and continues shooting in the airport proper. Must have been a harrowing scene. What details do we have at this point about what happened there?
SIEGLER: Yeah, we are being told by eyewitnesses and law enforcement that it was a very harrowing scene, Mr. Ciancia managing to get into the screening area, firing his assault rifle, getting past that screening area in Terminal 3, which is one of LAX's smaller terminals. But, yet, he still would have had to have gone at least 100 yards or more into the gated area down a pretty long hallway.
We're told, you know, in this entire time he was being chased by airport police. There was an exchange of gunfire. At one point, an airport police officer was hit, as was the suspect, of course, and they managed to bring him into custody.
SIEGEL: You mentioned eyewitnesses. Well, how did they describe what happened there to you?
SIEGLER: That it was frankly terrifying, as you might imagine. You know, after the incident appeared to be under control this morning, many were escorted down the sidewalk out of Terminal 3, down toward Terminal 2 to a police tape area that I had managed to get to at that point. Among them, coming out of the terminal, was Stacey McClennan(ph), who told me she had been in the terminal in line at the Air Canada counter when the gunman came in.
STACEY MCCLENNAN: So I was at ticketing, and one of the TSA agents turned around and said so-and-so has been shot. And we turned around, and it was a really young kid, a TSA agent, and he had his hand over his abdomen and there was blood coming out from his hand. And they all just kind of stood there. No one really knew what to do. And the next thing we knew, they were all yelling, run, run, so we all just took off running.
SIEGLER: Robert, a very dramatic scene there. And a lot of travel being disrupted of course, as well, at LAX with hundreds of flights grounded and some canceled, not to mention here but across the country, for that matter.
SIEGEL: Okay. That's NPR's Kirk Siegler at Los Angeles International Airport, where a gunman identified as Paul Anthony Cianci opened fire this morning, killing a TSA agent. Kirk, thank you.
SIEGLER: Thank you, Robert. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.