Nightly News   |  November 01, 2013

Chaos and bloodshed at LAX

Authorities say a lone gunman, 23-year-old Paul Ciancia, walked inside Terminal 3 at LAX and pulled an assault rifle from a bag. Police say he killed a Transportation Security Administration employee and wounded three other officers before continuing to fire rounds inside the terminal.  NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. at 9:30 on a friday morning l.a.x. is a very busy place. this morning a lone gunman with an assault rifle entered and apparently opened fire at a security checkpoint killing one tsa agent, wounding several more before he himself was taken down. he managed to make his way deep into the terminal to the gate area as thousands of passengers were forced to hide and avoid what became a shootout. air traffic was shut down. the facility was frozen in place. tonight it remains a crime scene as we learn more about the gunman, the dead, and the wounded. we have it covered tonight beginning with miguel almaguer at l.a.x. good evening.

>> reporter: brian, good evening. the terminal behind me is one of many that are just beginning to re-open right at this hour. police say a 23-year-old gunman entered a terminal not far behind me, opened fire, injuring seven, killing several before he was taken into custody. it happened before the morning rush .

>> a man in a wheelchair as well as the tsa agent covered in blood. [ sirens ]

>> reporter: 9:30 a.m ., shots fired inside terminal three at l.a.x. chaos, confusion, bloodshed. federal officials say a lone gunman , 23-year-old paul ciancia, a resident of los angeles from new jersey, walked inside the terminal , then pulled out this assault rifle from a bag.

>> he proceeded up into the screening area where our tsa screeners are and continued shooting. they tracked the individual through the airport and engaged him in gunfire.

>> reporter: police say the suspect killed a transportation security administration employee and wounded three other officers before continuing to fire rounds inside the terminal .

>> the officers didn't -- i repeat they didn't hesitate. they went after this individual and confronted this individual in our airport.

>> reporter: screams of panic filled the terminal .

>> there is a shooting in terminal three.

>> we heard a couple more gunshots. the police officers from outside of the airport yell " hit the floor ."

>> everyone dropped to the floor and started crawling along, staying as low as possible.

>> reporter: passengers poured onto the tarmac to escape the bloodshed. the mayhem unfolded on social media .

>> oh, my gosh.

>> terminal three, they are evacuating.

>> reporter: seven were injured, six taken to the hospital. the wounded carried to safety any way they could. a makeshift triage preparing for the worst.

>> it was terrifying, horrible. it took me an hour to stop shaking and feel better.

>> reporter: with the gunman in custody, police swept the terminal . every restroom, rooftop and parking garage checked for evidence.

>> we believe at this point that there was a lone shooter.

>> reporter: the nation's third busiest airport with 167,000 passengers here every day effectively shut down. flights grounded and delayed for hours. traffic snaked for miles near l.a.x. passengers wheeling their bags from up to a mile away. tonight, terminal three is closed. but much of l.a.x. has re-opened. the investigation into the shooting, including the motive, could take weeks. this was the first tsa agent killed in the line of duty. we are told the victim was a behavior analyst, an officer who specializes in people with suspicious movements. brian?

>> miguel almaguer outside l.a.x. tonight. thanks.