LOS ANGELES - A man pulled a semi-automatic rifle from a bag and shot his way past a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, killing a federal security officer and wounding two other people in an attack that disrupted flights across the U.S., authorities said.
The unidentified gunman was wounded in a shootout with police and taken into custody, said Los Angeles police Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger. A motive wasn't immediately clear. A Transportation Security Administration union official said the TSA officer was killed, citing local union officials.
A law enforcement official said the shooting suspect was Paul Ciancia, 23, from New Jersey. He was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing a handwritten note that said he "wanted to kill TSA and pigs," the official said, who was briefed on the investigation and requested anonymity because was he was not authorized to speak publicly.
A second law enforcement official confirmed the identity, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.
Officials told a press conference they saw no further threat Friday to the nation's third largest airport, which is a major gateway for flights to Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
The TSA issued a statement indicating that at least one other agent was wounded.
Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said the gunman entered Terminal 3, pulled an assault rifle from a bag and began shooting, then fired more shots at a screening checkpoint, where a security agent was checking passenger documents, before entering the secure area of the terminal.
Officers exchanged fire with the gunman and apprehended him. Police believe he was the only shooter, Gannon said.
"As you can imagine, a large amount of chaos took place in this entire incident," Gannon said.
Panicked travelers dropped to the ground. Those who had made it past security fled onto the tarmac or sought cover inside restaurants and lounges.
Xavier Savant, who was waiting in the security line where the shooting occurred, described it as a "Bam! Bam! Bam!" burst of gunfire.
Another witness, Brian Keech, said he heard "about a dozen gunshots."
Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees, confirmed that a TSA officer was killed. He said the union's information came from their local officials in Los Angeles.
Six people were taken to the hospital, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center said it received "three male victims from the LAX Airport shootings. One arrived in critical condition and two are listed in fair condition."
Terminal 3 is home to Virgin America, AirTran, Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, JetBlue, Virgin Australia and other airlines.
Air traffic was affected nationwide. The Federal Aviation Administration grounded flights that had not yet departed for LAX.
Ben Rosen said he heard gunfire erupt and saw people start running in all directions and others crouching. He lay on the ground. Police, with their guns drawn, shouted, "This is not a drill, hands up."
"It was scary I've never experienced anything like this before," Rosen said.
Flight tracking site FlightAware.com said that as of 11 a.m. local time, there were 12 flight cancelations and 132 flight delays in Los Angeles.