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LOS ANGELES (CNN) — A man “pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and began to open fire” Friday morning in Los Angeles International Airport, killing one person and injuring others before — after a pursuit through Terminal 3 — before being taken into custody, police said.
The fatality was a TSA agent, according to an intelligence source briefed by Los Angeles police and a federal source.
The suspected gunman was shot in the chest multiple times before being taken into custody, according to an intelligence officer briefed by Los Angeles police.
Earlier, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center said it received three male victims — one in critical condition and two in fair condition. It wasn’t immediately known whether the slain TSA agent was one of these three.
The episode caused what airport police Chief Patrick Gannon, who had said the shooter used an “assault rifle,” described as a “large amount of chaos.” People ran for their lives and took shelter wherever they could, as authorities pursued the gunman.
Still, authorities indicated the worst should be over, with Gannon noting there’s only believed to a “lone shooter.”
The gunman approached a checkpoint at Terminal 3 at 9:30 a.m. and began shooting at the TSA agent, according to a former ranking Los Angeles Police Department officer who was at the scene told CNN.
The gunfire and the airport’s announcement of the incident provoked chaos among travelers on a busy morning, passengers said.
One of the busiest airports in the world was rendered a ghost town: The violence prompted evacuations of portions of LAX and led to a “ground stop” for arriving planes, said police and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Almost every flight scheduled to leave the airport — one of the world’s busiest — on Friday will be “significantly late,” said Gina Marie Lindsay, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports.
The airport is still accepting incoming flights, but doing so at less than half the normal rate, she said. A gunman with an assault rifle opened fire at the airport earlier Friday.
Robert Perez, who was getting ready to take a Virgin Air flight, was taking a nap in the terminal when pandemonium erupted, he told CNN affiliate KCAL/KCBS.
“I heard a popping sound, and everybody was diving for cover,” Perez told the station. “The TSA said there was a shooting in the terminal and evacuate the building.”
At least 100 people came down a staircase. “Everybody started to panic,” Perez said.
Fox Sports national columnist Bill Reiter was also at the airport during the gunfire. “After the initial burst of gunfire and hiding, people started jumping over one another, jumping off chairs, pushing each other. Chaos & fear,” he said on his Twitter account.
The passengers were directed to board a bus and were taken to a smaller terminal, Perez told the affiliate.
Alex Neumann was at a food court, waiting to travel to Miami, when the incident unfolded. He said Terminal 2 was put into lockdown.
“People were running and people getting knocked down. There was luggage everywhere,” Neumann said. “Mayhem is the best I can describe it.”
Several police officers moved about the airport with guns drawn, he said. KCAL showed live video of three officers with rifles to their shoulders inspecting parked cars in an open-air parking lot.
The Los Angeles Fire Department was assisting with a “multi-patient” incident at Los Angeles International Airport, the department said Friday on Twitter.
Firefighters were laying tarps on the street at the airport, apparently for triage. Several ambulances were at the airport, and at least one person was loaded into one.
The area around the airport was jammed with cars as police shut down access to the airport Friday morning.
President Barack Obama has been briefed on the shooting and will continue to be updated, but the White House had no further information at this time on what happened, spokesman Jay Carney said Friday.
Authorities were interviewing about 100 witness, the intelligence source said.
A leader of the union representing TSA officers deplored the incident.
“We are sickened by reports of today’s shooting,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said.