Los Angeles (CNN) — [Breaking news update at 5:11 p.m.]
(CNN) — Authorities are looking into the possibility that Friday’s gunman at Los Angeles International Airport was targeting Transportation Security Administration officers, a federal law enforcement official said. Eyewitnesses said that the gunman asked, “Hey, are you TSA?” and — if a person answered “no” — he would move on, according to the official.
[Original story published at 5:02 p.m.]
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 being shot and taken into custody, police said.
The suspected gunman was pursued through Terminal 3 and shot in the chest multiple times before being taken into custody, according to an intelligence officer briefed by Los Angeles police.
Officials haven’t released his name, though law enforcement sources told CNN that he is a 23-year-old man with addresses in Los Angeles and New Jersey. The sources stressed that this information is preliminary.
Investigators have found materials and information on the shooting suspect expressing anti-federal government sentiment and anger at the Transportation Security Administration, a federal law enforcement official said.
The person killed was an officer with the TSA, that agency said. One other TSA officer was shot in the leg, according to a former Los Angeles Police Department ranking officer who was briefed by investigators.
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center said that, hours after the incident, it received three male victims — one in critical condition and two in fair condition. One of the two in fair condition suffered gunshot wounds, another suffered an unspecified injury, said Dr. Lynne McCullough, an emergency physician at the Los Angeles hospital.
It wasn’t immediately known how many people were wounded by gunshots or otherwise hurt in the incident, including whether they are now being treated at other area hospitals.
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.
Chuck Ocheret was among those in the busy airport when he heard two “loud pops.”
“Then I heard this mad rush of people, and there was a stampede of people coming from this direction,” Ocheret told CNN. “Nobody really knew what was going on.”
Still, by Friday afternoon, authorities indicated the worst should be over. Gannon noted it is believed there was only one shooter.
Source: Gunman had 3 magazines for weapon
The gunman approached a checkpoint at Terminal 3 at 9:20 a.m. (12:20 p.m. ET) and began shooting at the TSA officer, according to the ex-LAPD officer who happened to be at the scene. He had three magazines for his weapon, according to the intelligence source briefed by Los Angeles police.
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 on Friday will be “significantly late,” said Gina Marie Lindsay, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports.
The area around the airport was jammed with cars as police shut down access to the airport.
The airport is still accepting incoming flights, but doing so at less than half the normal rate, Lindsay said.
Police at Los Angeles International Airport announced around 2 p.m. over a loudspeaker that they were going to start allowing workers back into the airport so operations such as processing incoming and outbound flights could resume.
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.
Recalled Perez: “Everybody started to panic.”
‘Mayhem is the best I can describe it’
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, the department said Friday on Twitter.
At one point, firefighters lay 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.
A U.S. intelligence official “doesn’t see any indications of terrorism” in Friday’s shooting. The intelligence community has been in “constant contact with a range of law enforcement authorities,” according to the official.
President Barack Obama has been briefed on the shooting and will continue to be updated, spokesman Jay Carney said. Obama later addressed the issue later while meeting with Iraq’s prime minister, saying he was concerned about the shooting.
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.