published Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Travelers evacuate after erroneous LAX gun reports

LOS ANGELES — A loud auto crash that some passengers thought was shots being fired and an anonymous call reporting a gunman prompted evacuations Friday night at two terminals of Los Angeles International Airport, officials said.

A woman driving on the airport's arrivals loop at about 7:30 p.m. lost control of her SUV, hitting another woman who was walking on a sidewalk before slamming into a parking garage across the roadway from Terminal 5, Los Angeles police Sgt. Mark Guardado said.

People are still nervous following an airport shooting exactly three weeks ago in which a gunman killed a security officer and injured three other people.

"With what recently just occurred here, everybody's still a little bit on edge," Guardado said.

Sounds from the crash spurred reports of gunfire among the passengers inside the terminal, many of whom ran outside, though there were no official orders there to evacuate, LAX spokeswoman Nancy Castles said in a statement.

Both women in the crash were injured, the pedestrian seriously, Guardado told KTTV-TV. Details on their conditions were not immediately available.

Meanwhile in neighboring Terminal 4, airport police received an anonymous call just after the crash reporting a gunman at a specific gate, Castles said.

Police ordered the evacuation of that entire terminal while they investigated, but there were no signs of a gunman and the scene was deemed safe, Castles said.

Passengers and workers were allowed to return, but had to be rescreened by security, causing a huge bottleneck of people trying to get back in.

The false alarms made trouble for travelers on a busy Friday night, backing up traffic coming into the airport and delaying departing flights while passengers struggled to get to their gates. Terminal 4 is home to American, American Eagle and Qantas airlines. Terminal 5 is occupied solely by Delta Airlines.

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