Los Angeles International Airport, better known as LAX, is the third-busiest airport in the country and ranks number six in the world. But travelers – like me – who frequent the airport’s Terminal 3 might never guess.
Terminal 3 is an oddly quiet corner of a bustling place. I pass through it a few times each year because it serves JetBlue and Virgin America, which are the airlines I prefer on coast-to-coast trips. Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant are the other domestic carriers that fly to and from Terminal 3, and Virgin Australia uses it for departures. But most LAX traffic passes through the terminals that house the big domestic carriers, as well as the sprawling new Tom Bradley International Terminal.
Though not new or plush, Terminal 3 has the intimate, quiet feel of a small-city airport, like those in the Florida cities of Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale كبار الشخصيات, where I do most of my flying. It’s no surprise I feel at home.
The dining options are limited to a Gladstone’s fish restaurant, a Burger King, a bakery and a couple of Starbucks. There are not a lot of shopping opportunities, either. But after fighting through the traffic to get to LAX and riding the bus from the vast Hertz off-airport car rental facility, Terminal 3 usually feels like an oasis of calm.
That calm was broken when a clearly disturbed young man, for reasons probably known only to himself, packed a semi-automatic rifle and a stack of ammunition, asked a roommate to drive him to Terminal 3 – though he had no ticket – and opened fire at the security check-in line.
Transportation Security Agency officer Gerardo Hernandez died in the fusillade that Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, unleashed that morning. Two other TSA agents were wounded, though both had been released from the hospital by early the following week. A traveler, Brian Ludmer, 29, from the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, remained hospitalized in fair condition after being shot in the leg, CNN reported. (1)
After shooting his way through the security checkpoint and setting off a panicked scramble by passengers and workers, Ciancia would have proceeded down a long, narrow corridor, with shops, restrooms and airport service facilities on his right and a single departure gate – Gate 30 – on his left. News reports, citing witness accounts, say Ciancia asked individuals he encountered whether they worked for TSA. If they did not, he left them alone. (2)
At the end of the corridor the passage forks; one side leads to gates 31 through 34 and the other to gates 35 through 39. But those gates are really just on opposite sides of a single rotunda, which includes a large central waiting area and banks of restrooms and telephones. On the end of the rotunda closest to the security station, there is a small food court area with Burger King one side and Gladstone’s on the other. I often grab a bite at Gladstone’s before boarding my flight.
Armed police and airport security agents responded quickly to the reports of shots fired. They caught up to Ciancia in the rotunda and, according to press reports, brought him down near the Burger King. Ciancia was still hospitalized in critical condition yesterday. Authorities say he carried an anti-government note, and that he had sent a series of disturbing text messages to family back in New Jersey. Relatives contacted local authorities, who asked Los Angeles police to check on Ciancia – a call that came a little too late to stop his airport assault.