A 23-year-old man carrying a note that said he wanted to "kill TSA" pulled a semi-automatic rifle from a bag and shot his way past a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, killing one Transportation Security Administration officer and wounding two others, authorities said.
The gunman was wounded in a shootout with airport police and taken into custody, authorities said. His condition was not disclosed.
The attack at the nation's third-busiest airport sent terrified travelers running for cover and disrupted more than 700 flights across the United States, many of which were held on the ground at LAX or not allowed to take off for Los Angeles from other airports.
The slain security worker, Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39, was the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the 12-year history of the agency, which was founded in the aftermath of 9/11.
The FBI and Los Angeles airport police identified the gunman as Paul Ciancia, 23, of Pennsville, N.J. He had apparently been living in Los Angeles.
Ciancia was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing a one-page handwritten note that said he wanted to kill TSA employees and "pigs," the Associated Press reported, citing a law enforcement official.
The official said the rant refers to how Ciancia believed his constitutional rights were being violated by TSA searches and that he's a "pissed-off patriot" upset at former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Ciancia had at least five full 30-round magazines, the AP reported, citing the official, who was briefed at LAX.
The gunman walked up one flight of stairs, to the entrance of the security checkpoint, where, officials said, he shot at least one TSA officer. He then walked with determination past a candy shop, a newsstand and a bookstore. An airport police officer and a sergeant engaged the him in a gunfight near a food court.
As the gunfire echoed through the terminal, screams ricocheted down the corridors.
Travelers and employees crawled on the floor and ducked behind planters and advertising kiosks. Passengers tripped over one another and abandoned baggage as they barreled backward through the security check.
Jonathan Paul, 36, of Santa Monica, Calif., looked up from a newsstand and saw a wave of terrified people racing toward the main entrance. He said some were shouting "Go! Go! Go!"
Others, guided by no one, pushed open emergency exit doors and fled the terminal. Some raced across tarmacs and some tried to seek shelter on planes.
Brian Adamick, 43, who was preparing to board a Spirit Airlines flight for Chicago for his brother's wedding, was among those who escaped the terminal by running onto the tarmac. Before long, buses arrived to evacuate passengers. A wounded TSA officer with a bloody ankle boarded one of them.
"I got shot," the officer told Adamick. "I'm fine."
Stephanie Rosemeyer, 26, was awaiting a flight to Chicago when she saw people running toward the exits. She stood up in search of the source of the commotion, she said, and found herself looking directly into the gunman's eyes. She took a step and heard the gunman curse the TSA. She was among those who raced onto the tarmac.
Vernon Cardenas, 45, was one of the last people still inside Terminal 3 and was trying to determine whether he'd be safer running or staying when he found himself face to face with the gunman. He had his weapon pointed to the ground and stared directly into Cardenas' face.
"He wasn't moving like he was being chased," said Cardenas, the executive chef at State Social House restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif., who was preparing to fly on Virgin America to Philadelphia to conduct auditions for the television show MasterChef.
Rich Garry, 68, of Fullerton, Calif., said he had been at Terminal 3 on Friday morning headed for a flight to New York to visit family members. He said that a security officer had just checked his boarding pass and that he was waiting in line at the security checkpoint when he heard two shots.
"I heard a 'pop-pop' and I looked down a floor below, and the TSA guy was on the floor," he said. "He had been shot."
Garry said he believed it was the same security officer who had inspected his boarding pass.
Joseph James, 32, who said he had just gotten off a flight in Terminal 3 and was leaving the building when he heard several shots behind him, said, "Several people were yelling, 'Bomb! Bomb!' and that's what terrified me the most."
Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Armando Hogan says five people were taken to hospitals after the shooting: the gunman, the TSA officer who died, two other people who were shot, and one person with a broken ankle. A sixth person was treated at the scene for ringing in the ears from gunfire.
Airport officials said 746 flights were affected by the shutdown and 46 flights were diverted to other airports.
The shooting had minimal impact on Tampa International Airport's operations, spokeswoman Janet Zink said. One Delta flight from Los Angeles was delayed for about three hours Friday evening, Zink said, and both Tampa International Airport police and the TSA had more officers and agents in the terminal Friday.
The shooting was bound to raise new questions about security procedures at the nation's airports.
"This shows what kind of risks our agents take," said J. David Cox, the president of the union that represents TSA agents.
Times staff writer Will Hobson contributed to this report, which contains information from the Associated Press, New York Times and Los Angeles Times.