Jitters at LAX: Car crash prompts gunfire reports, causes travelers to flee terminal

Officers with assault rifles move through a terminal at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday night after reports of gunfire. The reports turned out to be unfounded. Chris Heric via Twitter

At the same time the sound of a car crash scared passengers into thinking shots were fired at Los Angeles International Airport Friday, travelers in another terminal were evacuated after a false report of a man with a weapon, airport officials said.

Police received a call about 7:30 p.m. of possible shots fired, but upon investigation realized the loud noise of a car crash outside a parking structure between Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 incited a panic, LAX Police Sgt. Ortiz told NBC4.

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Aerial video showed officials investigating what appeared to be a wrecked SUV or van on the curb near a parking structure.

After hearing the crash, travelers began to evacuate the airport on their own, Ortiz said. No shots were fired at the airport, he said.

About 8:20 p.m., crowds could be seen gathered outside as police evacuated Terminal 4 after a report of a man with a weapon, airport officials said.

Police found no weapon and cleared Terminal 4 for people to return inside just before 9 p.m.

Flight operations in Terminal 4 were disrupted but will resume once passengers are screened by security and return to their gates, officials said.

Ambulances could be seen lining the roadway in the pick-up and drop-off area of the airport.

The incident comes in the wake of the Nov. 1 shooting, during which a lone gunman opened fire near Terminal 3, killing a TSA officer and wounding four others.

A wrecked vehicle is seen outside the Terminal 5 parking structure at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday night. NBC Los Angeles