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LAX shooting: Instructions for thousands of affected passengers

More than 1,500 flights and 167,050 passengers have been affected by Friday’s shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, officials said Saturday.

Of the total flights, 724 were scheduled arrivals carrying 67,850 passengers and 826 departures carrying 99,200 passengers, LAX spokeswoman Nancy Castles said. She added that 86 of the arrivals were diverted to other airports.

As the investigation into the shooting continues, Castles said that Terminal 3 remained closed Saturday morning except for the ticket counters.

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Passengers checking in at Terminal 3's ticket counters for flights with Virgin America, JetBlue and other airlines are being moved to other terminals for takeoff, officials said.

Operations at the airport were thrown into disarray Friday when a gunman -- identified by police as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia -- opened fire inside Terminal 3 about 9:20 a.m.

When the shooting started, passengers in the lobby scattered, leaving strollers, baby bottles, wallets and purses on the terminal floor. 

"You could feel that they were running for their lives," LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon told The Times.

Many of those items were still unclaimed Saturday. Passengers who left their items in the lobby or security checkpoints could retrieve them at the Terminal 3 ticket counters as of 10 a.m. Saturday, LAX officials said.

Items left at gates have not yet been released. Affected persons should go to their respective airline ticket counters, officials said.

Flights are once more arriving and departing from LAX, but airlines are cautioning passengers that they may experience delays and should check their flight status before heading to the airport.

Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has finished investigating the scene of the shooting, and officials say Terminal 3 could fully reopen by Saturday night.

The shooting left bullet holes in the terminal walls and the floor stained with blood, Gannon said. The airport wants the shooting area to be "pristine" before it is reopened, he said.

A Transportation Security Administration screener, Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39, was shot and killed in Friday's rampage, TSA officials said.

A law enforcement official told The Times that the suspected gunman had a note expressing “disappointment in the government” and saying that he had no interest in hurting “innocent people.” Ciancia, a New Jersey native who lived most recently in Los Angeles, also sent a sibling a text message last week suggesting that he was prepared to die, officials said.

Another law enforcement official told The Times that investigators were looking into the possibility that the shooter “wasn’t a fan of the TSA.”

Authorities said that Ciancia, carrying a high-powered rifle, approached several people cowering in the airport terminal, pointed the gun at them and asked if they “were TSA.” If the answer was no, he moved on without pulling the trigger. A witness told The Times that the gunman cursed the TSA repeatedly as he moved through the terminal.

The incident was over in less than 10 minutes, but caused chaos that lasted for hours.

As gunfire rang out through the terminal, 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 checkpoint.

Ciancia was wounded in a brief gun battle, arrested and taken to a hospital where he remained in critical condition as of Saturday morning.

At the airport Saturday, lines of people at ticketing counters stood adjacent to where the shooting occurred. The area was blocked off from the public with blue tarpaulins, and cardboard over the sliding glass doors blocked outside onlookers.

Travelers will notice more police officers than usual at LAX in coming days, Gannon said.

"We want to have a sense of safety here at the airport," he said. 


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