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Man found dead in L.A. airport restroom

A man whose head was covered in a bag and whose hands were bound was found dead Wednesday morning in a restroom at Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said.

Airport police were called to the bathroom shortly before 8 a.m. and found a body slumped in a stall, according to sources familiar with the case. They called the Los Angeles Police Department, which dispatched detectives from the Robbery-Homicide Division.

The sources said it was not immediately clear if the death was a suicide or a homicide, but Los Angeles police said a preliminary investigation indicates the man possibly killed himself. They said the case has been turned over to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office to determine the official cause of death. They also stressed that the investigation was in its early stages.

Law enforcement officials said they could not recall a killing ever taking place inside the secured airport terminal.

In 2002, Jacob Aminov, 46, and Victoria Hen, 25, were slain and Sarah Phillips, 61, was wounded at LAX during an attack at the El Al airline ticket counter, outside the secure area. The attacker, 41-year-old Egyptian immigrant Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, was shot and killed by an El Al security guard. FBI agents later said Hadayet was angry over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

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Through the first half of the year, total crime at LAX decreased 6% to 1,146 incidents, from 1,222 incidents reported during the same period a year earlier. The total number of arrests decreased marginally, from 674 in the first six months of 2009 to 664 for the same period in 2010.

During the first half of 2010, there was one aggravated assault resulting in an arrest, compared with none by midyear 2009.

Nearly 29 million travelers used LAX through June 30 — a 4.85% increase over the same period last year. About 236,000 people pass through the airport on an average day.

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com


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