Police were concerned that there might be another shooting taking place, following a murderous rampage three weeks ago that claimed the life of a TSA officer and injured others. However, it appears the disturbances that caused passengers to flee Friday night came down to an out-of-control SUV and a false report of a gunman in what may have been a purposeful hoax or a reaction to the car accidents.
Los Angeles International Airport’s Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 were the locations of the incidents Friday evening. Ambulances were lined up along the road at the airport’s pick-up and drop-off area.
At Terminal 5, an urgent health problem caused the SUV to crash into the side of the airport, causing several accidents between other vehicles before ending up on the curb. Airport police chief Patrick M. Gannon explained that the car crash was caused by a motorist’s urgent health problem.
“A driver had a medical emergency, causing her to lose control of the vehicle,” Gannon said. “She has been transported to a local hospital.”
At nearly the same time the automobile accidents occurred at Terminal 5, which even passengers at some distance heard and confused with the sound of gunshots, a phone call came in that reported a gunman at Terminal 4.
Spooked LAX travelers fled Terminal 5 in a panic due to the sounds of the car crash, while police officers evacuated Terminal 4 over the false alarm and deployed into the area with guns drawn.
“We did not find anybody there with a gun. In an overabundance of caution, we evacuated terminal 4,” reported Gannon. “We had great cooperation with our passengers.”
Aerial footage showed crowds gathered around Terminal 4 after the police evacuation and officials investigating the wrecked SUV on the curb adjacent to a large parking structure.
Investigating Terminal 4, armed police found no evidence of a weapon. After completing a thorough search, they allowed travelers to re-enter the terminal around 9pm.
The last time LAX was evacuated was November 1, when a gunman opened fire in Terminal 3, killing TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez. Several people were injured by gunfire as well, and police shot suspected attacker Paul Ciancia several times before he was arrested and hospitalized.
That gunfire and the panic that followed occurred on a Friday, just like last night’s evacuations. Following the violence in the airport, the FAA issued a ground-stop order, with all flights stopped that morning in and out of the main airport serving America’s second largest city.
The events three weeks ago also came after previous security threats at Los Angeles International Airport in October. A former TSA agent had been making threats against the airport, and some contract workers were arrested after planting dry ice bombs in in the airport as well.
The police reaction and public panic in response to the car crash and false alarm at LAX Friday night seem to indicate both authorities and travelers are still on edge following the shootings and other incidents.
By: Jeremy Forbing