Chaos at LAX Airport After False Report of Active Shooter

In one of the world’s busiest airports, Los Angeles International Airport, panic and chaos struck at 8:45 p.m. on Sunday evening, August 28, 2016, when a report of an active shooter caused passengers to self-evacuate onto the airfield from several terminals.

On Monday, thousands of people found themselves stranded in the aftermath of what turned out to be a false report. Before it was confirmed to be merely “loud noises” and not gunshots heard in the terminals, airport officials reacted to the perceived threat, placing the safety of lives and personnel above the usual airport routine.

Had there been a valid threat at LAX, actions such as closing the central terminal to incoming traffic, setting up a command post, and checking through terminals to find an alleged gunman would likely have saved many lives. Instead, because it was a false report, all the actions and necessary precautions of a valid crisis served as an impediment to the intricate operations required at an airport the size of LAX.

Authorities performed their emergency duties with speed, given the sheer size of the airport. A crisis that began at 8:45 p.m. was considered contained by 10:45 p.m., when it was announced all terminals had been checked and cleared for the presence of an active shooter. Passengers who had self-evacuated were allowed to return to baggage claims to gather their left-behind luggage.

Once reports of a shooter began to spread, it spread quickly among people in the various terminals, with groups of passengers, many of them leaving their bags at their seats, fleeing into restrooms or out any available doors to the tarmac. Some people missed their flights amidst the chaos, a small price to pay at the moments their feared for their safety, but an inconvenience once operations were restored.

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