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Friday, 5 July, 2002, 06:34 GMT 07:34 UK
Eyewitness: Airport shooting
Police officer evacuates passengers and airport workers from the airport
Passengers were severely shaken by the ordeal
Los Angeles International airport, one of the busiest in the world, was crammed with travellers on America's Independence Day holiday when the attack by a gunman began.


After three or four shots, I just hit the floor

Armando Diaz
Hakin Hasidh from Dusseldorf, Germany, was standing in the ticket line next to the Israeli El Al airline counter when shots rang out.

"The first couple of shots, everybody just stood there, frozen like I was," he told the Associated Press news agency, adding that the gunman seemed "very, very calm".

"It's really hard to tell whether he was aiming at the counter, at people behind the counter or at people in line."

Panic

Passengers spoke of an initial stunned silence, then panic, with some running for the exits, others diving for cover behind the ticket counters or taking refuge in ticket offices.
Passengers outside Los Angeles airport
Thousands were evacuated

"It was like all these ants running everywhere," Herve Fleuriot from France told Reuters news agency.

"People were screaming, hollering 'get out of there.' People were ducking and running, going 'Oh my God'."

Airport worker Armando Diaz said at first he was not sure if the gunshots were genuine.

"I heard some shots (but) I thought it was some kids' fireworks," he said.

"But after three or four shots, I just hit the floor."

The gunman killed two people before he was shot dead by an airline security guard.

BBC correspondent David Willis, who was at the airport at the time of the shooting, described the fear experienced by passengers.

"Evacuated passengers, many of them shaken, some of them tearful, told me how they hit the floor as a volley of up to a dozen shots rang out," he said.

"People I spoke to... were very frightened, very shaken up by their ordeal."

Bomb fears

The suspect was found to be armed with a deadly array of weapons, including a knife and two handguns, but several witnesses, mindful of the 11 September suicide attacks, feared he may have been carrying something far worse.

"We were waiting for something else to happen, a bomb or something," said Richard Whittington, who was travelling with his elderly mother.

Many were angered that, despite heightened security, such an incident could occur.

"I'm very angry against American security," said Mr Fleuriot.

"It could have been a human bomb. It's a sham; it should not have happened."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Willis reports
"The US authorities says there is no immediate evidence of this being a terrorist attack"
LA Police Chief, Martin Pomeroy
"There was an immediate and rapid response"
See also:

05 Jul 02 | Americas
04 Jul 02 | Americas
04 Jul 02 | Americas
04 Jul 02 | Americas
02 Jul 02 | Americas
05 Oct 01 | Europe
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