A Los Angeles City Council member Tuesday criticized what he called “gaps in communication" between Los Angeles International Airport workers and thousands of stranded, evacuated passengers in the hours after Friday’s shooting.
Councilman Mike Bonin, whose Westside district includes LAX, praised the public safety response to accused gunman Paul Ciancia, who police say entered Terminal 3, fatally shot a TSA agent and wounded two more.
But after passengers were evacuated, many onto the tarmac, “there were gaps in communications with the passengers and a perceived lack of adequate support for those who were stranded," Bonin wrote in a motion to the City Council.
Many passengers, barricaded in sections of the Bradley International Terminal, had limited access to food and water and few updates from LAX staff, Bonin said. Those who hadn’t passed through security fled on foot with their luggage to nearby roadways, he said, including Lincoln and Sepulveda boulevards.
Travelers who were stranded overnight were not informed about alternatives, Bonin said, including a shelter set up by the Red Cross and contact information for nearby hotels. Others did not receive clear direction from airlines on rescheduled and relocated flights.
“As LAX remains a top target for terrorists, along with others looking to inflict harm,” Bonin wrote, “there are lessons to be learned on how to minimize the chaos such an incident can cause, and improve information sharing, evacuation procedures and care for stranded passengers."
Officials for Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX, were not immediately available for comment.
In addition, Bonin called for a progress report on the implementation of scores of recommendations made in 2011 by a special panel of experts who analyzed security and emergency response measures at LAX. Then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa requested the review in 2010.
Although the panel declared that the nation’s third busiest airport was safe, it called for a host of improvements for emergency management, the security of facilities and the airport police force. Panelists also noted that emergency management at LAX was not given a high enough priority by Los Angeles World Airports.
Bonin also suggested airport officials consider improvements to LAX evacuation procedures and routes.