False Report of Weapon, Car Crash Frightens LAX Travelers

Flight operations out of Terminal 4 were halted until officials cleared the airport

At the same time the sound of a car crash scared passengers into thinking shots were fired at Los Angeles International Airport Friday, travelers in another terminal were evacuated and thousands of flights were delayed after a false report of a man with a weapon, airport officials said.

Police received a call about 7:30 p.m. of possible shots fired, but upon investigation realized the loud noise of a multiple-car crash outside a parking structure between Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 incited a panic, LAX Police Sgt. Ortiz told NBC4.

After hearing the crash, travelers began to evacuate the airport on their own, Ortiz said. No shots were fired at the airport, he said. 

"Part of that (reaction), we believe, is some hypersensitivity to what occurred on Nov. 1, three weeks ago," said LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon during a news conference outside the airport.

He was referring to shooting in which a lone gunman opened fire near Terminal 3, killing a TSA officer and wounding four others.

Aerial video Friday showed officials investigating what appeared to be a wrecked SUV or van on the curb near a parking structure.

About 8:20 p.m., crowds could be seen gathered outside as police evacuated Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 after an anonymous caller reported a man with a weapon was at Gate 45, airport officials said.

At least 2,000 passengers either left the airport on their own or were evacuated by airport police, LAX officials said.

About 4,600 arriving and departing travelers were impacted by the incidents, officials said. Delta Airlines (Terminal 5) and American Airlines (Terminal 4) reported a total of 60 delayed flights but no cancellations.

Police found no weapon and cleared both terminals for people to return inside just before 9 p.m.

Flight operations in Terminal 4 were disrupted as police cleared the airport, and slowly resumed as passengers were screened by security and returned to their gates, officials said.

Ambulances could be seen lining the roadway in the pick-up and drop-off area of the airport.

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