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3:24 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Report: Emergency Response Inadequate In Airport Shooting

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 3:50 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Bad communication, faulty technology, and poor planning - those are just some of the issues highlighted in a report about the deadly shooting last year at Los Angeles International Airport. A TSA worker was killed in that attack and three people were wounded. NPR's Nathan Rott has more.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: There are 19 major observations and more than 50 recommendations outlined in the 83-page report prepared for L.A.'s airport authority. Phone systems and panic buttons weren't working properly and there were gaps in communication between police, fire, and medical responders. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI: The biggest failure was our lack of communication.

ROTT: More than 20 different agencies responded to the shooting November 1st, some as early as seconds after a gunman walked into LAX's Terminal 3 and started firing. But according to the report, those responders didn't put together a coordinated command structure until 45 minutes later. And the communication with waiting travelers and the public was even worse.

GARCETTI: Unless they got information from somebody, heard from somebody who came by, they were completely clueless. And that was unacceptable to me.

ROTT: The report did point out that the most immediate responders, LAX's in-house police, responded, quote, "quickly and heroically." Garcetti made sure to reiterate that.

GARCETTI: But I also want to be clear that we got lucky that day.

ROTT: Authorities say that the alleged gunman, 24-year old Paul Ciancia, was targeting TSA workers as part of a vendetta he had against the federal government. The sole fatality, 39-year-old Gerardo Hernandez, was shot a dozen times.

GARCETTI: If this person had not just been targeting TSA agents, for instance, there are many other people he went by that could be dead today.

ROTT: Garcetti and LAX's leadership say they're working to fix the problems and that many have already been addressed. Unions that represent TSA workers and airport police officers, though, say these fixes should have been done years ago. Marshall McClain is the president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association.

MARSHALL MCCLAIN: We shouldn't have to have an after-action report to find out if these things are incorrect. They are incorrect.

ROTT: The union representing TSA workers will release its own report on the shooting soon. Nathan Rott, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.