False gunman warning panics Los Angeles airport passengers

Author: Associated Press
Police lights crime

LOS ANGELES (AP) – About 20 passengers fled through emergency doors and onto the tarmac at a Los Angeles International Airport terminal Monday after someone wrongly announced that an armed man was on the loose, authorities said.

The “misinformed announcement” apparently stemmed from a police pursuit of an unarmed driver, which ended outside Terminal 2, LAX Police Sgt. Belinda Joseph said.

Police responded to an emergency call around 9 a.m. that a man may be trying to commit suicide off airport property. They apprehended the man, and the fire department took him to a hospital for treatment of an unspecified condition. But “someone said that there was a man with a gun, which was not true,” Joseph said.

Police initially said the rumor was spread over the public address system but later said the announcement came from an unknown person at the gate area.

Travelers who fled outside were “under observation the whole time” they were near planes, and officers got things under control within 15 minutes, Joseph said.

“They just went outside and told them the accurate information, and the passengers went on their flights,” Joseph said.

LAX has been the scene of gun violence before.

In November 2013, a man shot and killed a Transportation Security Administration screening agent and wounded three other people. Paul Ciancia faces federal charges that could bring the death penalty. The New Jersey native has pleaded not guilty.

In 2002, a limousine driver opened fire at a ticket counter, killing an airline employee and a person who was dropping off a friend.

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