A New Zealander was able to shield himself and other airline passengers into a secure luggage area after an unknown assailant opened fire with his gun just a few metres away from them inside the Los Angeles Airport.
Steven Bates immediately took action as the gunman went on a shooting rampage and fired dozens of rounds randomly at the crowded airport. The LAX airport shooting incident killed a transit security officer and injured seven other passengers.
Mr Bates, who is married with two children, came from Auckland. He is an executive for Medaire, a medical response company. When Mr Bates heard the gunfire, he dived to the ground for cover. He said he heard the "pop pop pop" sounds of a gun firing in Terminal 3.
He and other passengers in the area began jumping behind the counters and climbed on conveyor belts. When airport personnel saw them, Mr Bates told the staff that there was "a lot of shooting" outside.
The passengers escaped harm as they were able to hide behind a barricade they formed with a few of the elderly and counter staff of Virgin America. Mr Bates said at first he was bewildered by the ongoing shooting. When he heard another big barrage of gunfire, he was beginning to fear for their lives since he didn't know if the gunman was running their way or not.
When the shootout began, the Los Angeles airport went on lockdown. Mr Bates was on his way to a Florida for a boat show. He said he was only in the LAX airport because his flight on Air New Zealand had been delayed for 10 hours.
Due to the incident, hundreds of flights were cancelled during and passengers of Air New Zealand remained on the airport tarmac for more than four hours when the shooting occurred.
Police had apprehended the suspected gunman in a deadly attack at the Los Angeles airport. A U.S. security committee chairman said the suspect, 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia, planned a suicide mission. The chairman was reportedly able to obtain a note that said the suspect intended to kill himself after killing one TSA officer.
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