False Gunman Warning Panics LAX Passengers

LOS ANGELES (AP/FOX 11) - About 20 passengers fled through emergency doors and onto the tarmac at a Los Angeles International Airport terminal Monday after someone incorrectly said an armed man was on the loose, authorities said.

The "misinformed announcement" near a boarding area apparently stemmed from a police pursuit of an unarmed driver that ended outside Terminal 2, LAX Police Sgt. Belinda Joseph said.

Police responded to an emergency call around 9 a.m. reporting that a man may be trying to commit suicide. They apprehended the man, and the fire department took him to a hospital for treatment of an unspecified condition. But "someone said that there was a man with a gun, which was not true," Joseph said.

Police initially said the rumor was spread over a public address system but later said the announcement was made by someone at the gate area. It was unknown whether an airport or airline employee, a passenger, or someone else spread the incorrect information.

Travelers who fled outside were "under observation the whole time" they were near planes, and officers got things under control within 15 minutes, Joseph said.

"They just went outside and told them the accurate information, and the passengers went on their flights," Joseph said.

LAX has been the scene of gun violence before.

In November 2013, a man shot and killed a Transportation Security Administration screening agent and wounded three other people. Paul Ciancia faces federal charges in that case that could bring the death penalty. The New Jersey native has pleaded not guilty.

In 2002, a limousine driver opened fire at a ticket counter, killing an airline employee and a person who was dropping off a friend.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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