Around 9:20am local time, a gunman entered Terminal 3 of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and opened fire, killing a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official and injuring seven others. Federal officials identified the suspect as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia of Los Angeles. According to authorities, Ciancia pulled an assault rifle out of his bag on the ground floor of the terminal and began shooting. He then moved to the screening area and continued to fire rounds, which enabled him to pass the security checkpoint. Authorities shot and injured Ciancia near a Burger King further into the terminal, and the suspect was taken into custody.
The Los Angeles Fire Department announced it had treated seven people at the scene, and six people were transported to local hospitals. In addition to the TSA officer that was killed, at least three other TSA employees were injured. The incident immediately prompted evacuations, street closures and a ground-stop order for all incoming flights to LAX. As of 1:30pm local time, the official LAX Twitter account reported that arriving flights already in the air are either landing at LAX or diverting to other local airports. Individuals with flights leaving from LAX this afternoon have been told to contact their airlines directly regarding delays or cancellations.
The MSA Research and Intelligence Analysis Group is monitoring this situation closely and has identified the following implications:
- Airports are highly secure targets, and additional casualties were likely prevented due to the quick and efficient law enforcement response. Today’s attack is a reminder of the importance of having proper emergency response protocols in place.
- At this time the incident appears to be the act of a lone gunman, despite initial accounts that a second shooter was involved.
- Early reports stated the suspect may have been affiliated with the TSA, indicating a potential workplace violence incident. It is now reported he was a ticketed passenger entering the airport, but his motive is still unclear.
- Although the incident has not been deemed a terrorist act at this time, the latest reports state Ciancia had written materials on him containing “strong anti-government views.” According to sources, the literature specifically targeted the TSA and law enforcement suggesting this was not a random shooting.
- As more details emerge, this latest incident may fall into the recent pattern of using rifles and other small arm tactics to target government-related agencies.
To read the MSA Research and Intelligence Analysis Group's Special Analysis Report on the Active Shooter Threat click here.