CNN BREAKING NEWS
Speculation Surrounds Shooting at LAX
Aired July 5, 2002 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: A national holiday ...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two bursts -- one short burst, then followed by lots of other shots.
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BLITZER: A deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, and near L.A., a small plane crashes into a crowded park.
It's Thursday, July 4th, 2002. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Welcome to CNN's continuing coverage of the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport. Because of this breaking news story, "CROSSFIRE" won't be seen tonight.
Three people are dead, including a suspected gunman, and three other people are wounded following a shootout near the ticket counter of Israel's El Al Airlines at LAX, Los Angeles International Airport.
Let's go live to our man on the scene, Charles Feldman. He has all the late breaking developments -- Charles.
CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, CNN has been told, and we've reported now, that based on the accounts of three individual and separate law enforcement individuals that the alleged gunman appears to be an Arab male.
Now this is being determined, I am told, by appearances, thus far, not by any other sort of official identification, and appearances, I stress, can certainly be deceptive, but we've got three different and independent law enforcement sources telling us that the alleged gunman appears to be an Arab male.
Also, we can tell you that the LAPD earlier today took into custody another individual, not a suspect we are told, not under arrest we are told, but nonetheless somebody they wanted to talk to because some eyewitnesses said that this individual was seen accompanying the alleged gunman earlier in the day.
That individual has, I am told, been or is being turned over to the FBI for further questioning. The FBI has now assumed the leadership role in this investigation. Now, both FBI and police sources and on the record during news conferences have stressed that there is no evidence, no evidence at this time, to link this alleged gunman with a terrorist act, terrorism defined in the political sense that he's connected to any group or cause.
And earlier in the day, we asked the governor of the state of California, Governor Gray Davis, for what he knew about any alleged link to terrorists, and here's what he said.
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GOVERNOR GRAY DAVIS, CALIFORNIA: I spoke to Governor Ridge just a few moments ago to brief him on what's happening. I told him, in the judgment of Rich Garcia, the agent in charge of the FBI with whom I just spoke, that this is probably an isolated incident, but the FBI is not going to rule anything out until their investigation is complete, and obviously that investigation is just beginning.
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FELDMAN: OK, and that's the operative phrase that we keep hearing, Wolf, all afternoon. The investigation is just beginning and it's at a very early stage.
It could turn out that this is just a lone gunman bent on wreaking havoc at an airline here at LAX, or of course, it could turn out to be something much more sinister and much more widespread, but there's no evidence that they're sharing publicly or privately, I should stress, that would indicate that they have any information leading in the direction of terrorism.
But it's an early stage in this investigation, even though the shooting happened this morning L.A. time, and all of that could change. There's a news conference, Wolf, that is scheduled for about 10 more minutes I think from now right behind me, and we'll get a public update from the law enforcement officials about where this investigation stands, and I believe that we will be taking that live -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We certainly will. Charles Feldman on the scene at LAX for us doing an outstanding job as usual, and stand by, we'll be coming back to you during the course of our special coverage this hour.
Right now I want to bring in the commissioner, the police commissioner of Los Angeles, Martin Pomeroy. He's joining us live.
Commissioner, thanks so much for joining us. I know you're incredibly busy on this Fourth of July. What do you make of this report that Charles Feldman just had three independent law enforcement sources suggesting that based on appearance, the shooter in this particular case, now deceased, is an Arab male.
Chief, can you hear me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you hear him, sir? BLITZER: All right, we're going -- yes, can you hear me now, Chief? Chief Martin Pomeroy, can you hear me?
CHIEF MARTIN POMEROY, LOS ANGELES POLICE: Yes, I can. Go ahead, please.
BLITZER: All right, I'm sorry for the technical problem. Our Charles Feldman just reporting three separate law enforcement sources suggesting based on appearance largely, the shooter in this particular case, who is deceased, appears to be an Arab male. Can you confirm that for us?
POMEROY: Well as you know, all facts regarding the investigation are going to have to come from the FBI and it would be premature, I think, for them at this point to try and put a nationality with the suspect. I'm just not sure and I'm not -- I don't think they are sure either.
BLITZER: So as far as you know, Chief, there's no name for the individual. At least you haven't been able to come up with a specific name yet.
POMEROY: Correct, as far as I know, the suspect remains unidentified at this moment.
BLITZER: Is it your sense right now this is an isolated incident not related to terrorism?
POMEROY: Correct. We have developed absolutely no clues or any information that would lead us to believe this is somehow terrorist related. This appears to be an isolated incident. We find nothing else in the country, nothing else in the nation, nothing else in the county of Los Angeles or anywhere in the Los Angeles Police Department's jurisdiction that would lead us to believe that any other citizens are in jeopardy or danger because of what occurred at LAX today.
BLITZER: What about this second individual who was picked up, apparently brought in for questioning. What, if any, connection does he have to the shooter who, of course, was killed by an El Al security guard?
POMEROY: I'm not aware of any other connection to any persons to the suspect who is deceased. But you are correct. We have talked to some other people. The results of those conversations are unknown to me right now.
BLITZER: What, precisely, as far as you can tell, piecing together the event in this particular case that happened around earlier this afternoon in Los Angeles, precisely what happened?
POMEROY: Well, I can't be precise, again, because this is the FBI's investigation. They will have to release the information that they think is appropriate at this moment. But I can confirm or tell you that we had an incident around 11:30 a.m. this morning where a male fired shots within the Bradley Terminal, the International Terminal, adjacent to the El Al desk. That person is now deceased, apparently shot by security people from El Al. Two other citizen individuals, citizens, are known to be deceased. And in addition, two other individuals have been transported to the hospital with what are described to me as minor injuries or at least not critical injuries.
BLITZER: Do you know the names of the other two individuals who were deceased, who were killed in this shootout?
POMEROY: No, I'm sorry I don't have those, and we won't release those for a bit anyway because their next of kin, their relatives have not been notified, as I understand.
BLITZER: Chief, before I let you go, I know it's been incredibly difficult, but based on the preliminary information you have right now, are you planning on doing anything additional to beef up security in Los Angeles at various locations?
POMEROY: Well, as far as tonight goes, we already were at what we call maximum deployment. We had just about all of our resources committed. We're not to suggest that any of our fireworks displays or patriotic things, events, be cut short or abandoned. As far as tomorrow and the rest of the weekend goes, we were at a high level of deployment. However, people coming to LAX can be assured they're going to see a lot of police officers over the weekend. We're going to put extra resources here at LAX.
BLITZER: And any additional security being provided for Israeli, potentially Israeli locations in Los Angeles like the Consulate or other El Al offices, for example, Israeli banks in the area?
POMEROY: Again I'm not going to comment too specifically. However, as part of our plans, we have situations and deployment similar to what you describe. So places such as that will receive proper attention.
BLITZER: I know this is not the way you wanted to spend your Fourth of July, this Independence Day. Chief Pomeroy, thanks, though, for joining us and appreciate the time you took out to explain what's going on to our viewers.
POMEROY: Thank you for your interest and please let the people in Los Angeles know we're not aware of any other specific threat to their safety.
BLITZER: Well we just -- you just informed them, all those people in Los Angeles who are watching this program, appreciate it very much, Chief.
Let's move on now and bring in our Patty Davis. She's here in our Washington bureau. She's monitoring the situation as well, speaking to federal authorities about the shooting at LAX. Patty, what are they telling you?
PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, an administration source and the FBI now say the shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport does look like an isolated incident, at this point not tied to terrorism. The administration source says there is no other intelligence that would speak to the contrary.
Now as far as the gunman appearing to be an Arab male, now my source cautions about drawing any conclusions, saying the investigation really needs to go forward before any conclusions are drawn. Meanwhile the FAA says the incident has not caused significant delays here in the United States, no ripple effect.
Domestic flights are operating normally out of Los Angeles International Airport. The FAA says that LAX is accepting international flights, and we've just been told that international departures now are now also open for business -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, well that's encouraging news. While I have you, I want to go back to the shooting at LAX. But there was another - the small plane crash in the Los Angeles area today for our viewers just tuning in. Tell us what happened on that development.
DAVIS: Well, there was a small Cessna 310 that took off from a local airport. It was taking off from nearby Pomona Bracket (ph) Airport. The pilot of that Cessna reported trouble climbing and declared a mayday, says the FAA. He crashed soon thereafter into the water. The plane skipped then on to the land where it hit people on the ground in a park, injuring 10 people. Now there were two people on board that small plane, one of them killed in the crash. So one fatality, 10 injured. The status of that second person on the plane unknown at this time -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A double dose of tragedy in the Los Angeles area on this Fourth of July. Patty Davis, thank you for joining us as well and what issues does the LAX incident raise about overall airport security?
Joining us here in our Washington bureau, CNN security analyst Kelly McCann. Well what's the answer to that question, Kelly?
KELLY MCCANN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Well we've got a lot of conflicting issues, Wolf, not the least of which are, you know, the continued convenience of American travelers, the expense necessary to significantly change the kind of security and what that would cost the airlines and the traveling public, the openness of our society, all of those things. We haven't embraced this yet.
BLITZER: Is there anything else that can be done? It seems to me -- I've flown El Al over the years. What else can Israeli security personnel who work at El Al, what else could they possibly do to beef up security?
MCCANN: Really physical security, the prevention or access control is really what would, you know, determine whether you can get into a place. And that would mean that that physical security might have to be pushed out further to right curb side. But that's going to immediately affect the convenience of the traveling public. The next question would be, should we make major changes based on, one, what looks like an isolated incident.
BLITZER: Well if you keep expanding the perimeter all the time, for example, if you drive into Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, before you get anyplace close to the terminal, you got to go through a checkpoint. They take a look at your car, your registration, your I.D. card, your passport, if you're a tourist. Is it ever going to have to come down to that kind of a situation?
MCCANN: It may and if you think about it, Ben Gurion is one place, of course, in Israel. Think of the hundreds of airports across the United States and the amount of manpower, personnel, technology that would be necessary to do that. That's why people should take a deep breath here and let's just evaluate and see what comes of this incident before anybody has a knee-jerk solution.
BLITZER: We're standing by, Kelly, for a news conference. More information expected from the FBI, which, as you know, is the lead agency investigating this situation. Before I let you go, though, as you look at the overall situation right now at LAX or other major airports in the United States, are we safer than we were -- considerably safer than we were before 9/11?
MCCANN: I believe yes, and I think that it would be ridiculous to say not because of that incident being so traumatic. There had to be significant changes. Now the recent 25 percent of mock weapons and explosives getting through is not indicative of performance right now. Can you imagine what the performance was pre-9/11? But to say that there's been no difference or we haven't made great strides would be just terribly wrong.
BLITZER: All right Kelly McCann, stand by. I want you to come on later during this hour as we continue our coverage of the shooting at LAX. While officials say the LAX shooting appears to have been an isolated incident, airport security, of course, is a national concern.
Joining me here in Washington, Billy Vincent. He's the former head of security for the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration. Mr. Vincent, thanks for joining us. Well, what's your take on what happened at LAX today?
BILLY VINCENT, FMR. FAA HEAD OF SECURITY: Well I think Kelly is right, and the others. It appears to be an isolated incident at this time. Of course it's a tragedy for those people involved. It also is an indication of the superb security reaction of El Al, and many years ago as head of security for the FAA, I had the pleasure of working with some of those people and knew the system quite well.
BLITZER: Very unique at these airports in the United States in that their personnel there. They have their own security guards. They're armed. It's a lot different if you go to United or Northwest or Delta, any of the American carriers. They don't necessarily have security personnel of their own at the ticket counters.
VINCENT: And they're not needed at this point. Now Kelly was right from the standpoint we have to take a deep breath here and not react to an isolated incident. But if the threat changes or if this turns out to have indeed been a terrorist threat, then there is a need to go back and look and say, where should that security perimeter start? As you mentioned, Ben Gurion has that early on, even as you approach the airport. There are many other airports in the world where when you enter that terminal, you then are immediately screened. Your bags are screened. Your checked bags are taken from you or are screened. In other words, the terminal becomes secure and a sterile area, not waiting until a checkpoint.
BLITZER: That's certainly the case at various airports around the world. New Delhi, for example, I was there a couple of years ago and as you get out of your car, you begin to walk into the terminal. Before you get any place close to the ticket counter you're going through metal detectors.
VINCENT: That's right. But, again, any system that you set up and we've designed some for the newest airports in the world like Kuala Lumpur and Inchon, some of the major airports have built in the last decade. You look first at what are my threat conditions, and what are my vulnerabilities, and what is my risk?
Now you can set any number of security measures up to address these issues, but it's a very structured and a considered process. One has to take that structured process and this, as well as other incidents, and say have conditions changed? If they haven't changed, are we doing things right? What didn't happen prior to 9/11 was that we didn't wake up to that and conditions had changed and they changed dramatically in the mid 1990s.
BLITZER: But there's no such thing, and correct me if I'm wrong, as 100 percent security for the flying public.
VINCENT: There is no such thing as 100 percent certainty in anything. So what you do is you set up a layered interdependent system, and that system starts at some point based on what threat conditions are, and then you put in all of those other layers that are necessary. As you said, none of those layers being 100 percent effective, but each of the layers contributing to the overall security system.
El Al does that. Any good security system does that. And that was what played out here a few months ago on should we arm pilots as the last ultimate layer in this security system? We have another possible incident now that might say are we looking far enough in front of the system? The layered process is a very necessary and a very good process.
BLITZER: But you make a good point. Let's take a deep breath. Let's not jump to any conclusions. This investigation is only just beginning. Billy Vincent, thanks for joining us ...
BLITZER: ... former head of security at the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration.
We're standing by awaiting a news conference with FBI special agents at LAX, at the Los Angeles International Airport. They have additional details. Once they come to the microphones we'll be going out there live.
But up next, assuming the worst until it's proven otherwise, we'll look at Israel's reaction to the LAX shooting. Our special report, we'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our BREAKING NEWS coverage, the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport earlier today. Let's recap what happened. A man opened fire near the El Al airlines ticket counters at LAX. Two people were killed and at least three people were wounded before an airline security officer killed the gunman.
The investigation continues, but the FBI says there's no evidence at this point that the attack is linked to terrorism. Israel's national airline El Al is of course known throughout the industry as having some of the toughest security around, but citing past incidents, Israel's Transport Minister, Ephraim Sneh, says he believes the shooting is indeed a terrorist attack.
Let's go to Jerusalem, our bureau chief Mike Hanna is standing by with more reaction from Israel - Mike.
MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Well Wolf, as you say, the initial Israeli reaction both from El Al and their Transport Minister Ephraim Sneh was to characterize that L.A. attack as a terrorist one. Israel's transport minister saying that any attack on passengers waiting at an El Al counter at an international airport must be assumed to be a terrorist one and assumed is the operative word.
The transport minister has confirmed to CNN that he has no evidence that it was, in fact, a terrorist attack saying that it was clearly an assumption at this point. Israel, of course, having had experience of such attacks in the past, one must remember back to December 1985, when 17 people were killed at a check-in counter at Rome airport at an El Al check-in counter and certainly the El Al security is intense at the check-in counter, as well as on the aircraft themselves. El Al itself is holding a news conference within the hour and we'll have details from that to bring you up-to-date as to exactly what El Al is saying at this particular point -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And I know we'll try to get that when that happens as well, Mike. But you've spoken with El Al personnel. Have they changed anything as a result of this shooting? I know that flight in Los Angeles that was scheduled to leave for Toronto with continuing service to Tel Aviv, of course, has been canceled, but what about other El Al flights around the world?
HANNA: Well, the official El Al statement a couple of hours ago is that no other flights, El Al flights around the world have been disrupted. They are confident of their security measures that are in place and their flights are at this stage continuing as normal. That was according to their statement a couple of hours ago. We're waiting for an update within the next hour Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, we'll be standing by. Mike Hanna, thanks for joining us live from Jerusalem.
Republican Congressman David Dreier represents the San Gabriel Valley in Eastern Los Angeles County. He's here with me now here in our Washington bureau. Congressman, thanks for joining us.
BLITZER: I want to talk about two issues with you - LAX as well as that small plane crash in your district. You live not that far away from there, but let's talk about LAX first. You've heard all of this somewhat conflicting, somewhat confusing information we're getting. What is your take on what happened?
REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: For starters, Wolf, obviously everyone has been sort of focused on today and almost anything that would have happened today would have been news, and obviously this is a horrible tragedy that took place at LAX. But I think that both Kelly McCann and Billy Vincent were right on target in talking about the fact that we can't jump to conclusions, and we need to look at this and try to determine whether or not this man was in fact a terrorist.
And people who are talking about an immediate reaction to what took place, I believe, are really jumping way too fast. I mean this may be an isolated incident. We hope and pray that it is. You know this kind of thing happens on tragically a daily basis. I mean we see shootings in liquor stores and other places and obviously the fact that it happened at LAX and at El Al does focus new attention on it. But I think that we've got to be very cautious before we jump to conclusions.
BLITZER: And that's precisely what the police chief in L.A. ...
... Martin Pomeroy said as well.
BLITZER: But as you know the coincidence ...
BLITZER: ... that the Israelis talk about ...
BLITZER: ... July 4th, El Al ...
BLITZER: ... ticket counter, there's been a history of these kind of attempts and some successful against Israeli targets coming in the midst of ...
DREIER: Right. BLITZER: ... what's going on. People jump to that kind of conclusion perhaps prematurely.
DREIER: We know that Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres did, in fact, say that this was a terrorist attack. He may be right. I hope that he's wrong. We all hope that he's wrong. But I do think that it's correct in saying that we've got to look seriously at this and we have to raise questions, because as you correctly say, Wolf, the circumstances, but I don't believe that people should draw conclusions yet.
I think that's what we need to do, and we also have to remember as the president said, at a time when our nation is threatened we love our country even more. I'm going to be here on the mall tonight for the first time in my 22 years in the Congress. My family is here. We're going to be celebrating in just a little while.
The concert begins on the mall, and I believe the best way to stick it to the president - to the terrorists is as Michael Bloomberg said the other day, for us to leave the law enforcement officials in charge of our security, be careful, but at the same time enjoy our 226th day of independence.
BLITZER: And we certainly will try to do that. Double dose of tragedy in Los Angeles in the LAX, in the Los Angeles area. Your district suffering a huge loss, a painful loss on this Fourth of July.
DREIER: It's terrible. Wolf, I literally live blocks -- I overlook Lake Puddingstone, which is in San Dimas, and the airport is in fact called Bracket Field and LaVerne (ph), and I've taken off in private aircraft many times out of there, and I'm saddened by this, and of course we will find out exactly what the circumstances are. But, you know, our thoughts go out to those people who have been impacted by this tragedy.
BLITZER: David Dreier ...
DREIER: Always good to be with you Wolf.
BLITZER: Republican of California, thanks for joining us. Happy Fourth of July.
DREIER: Thank you.
BLITZER: And we're standing by for a news conference with special agents of the FBI at the Los Angeles Airport. That should be happening very soon. When it does, we'll go there live.
But when we come back, I'll have a quick look at today's other headlines. In one part of the country it was trial by fire. In another it was too much water. And then we'll take you back to Los Angeles for an update on the airport shooting.
BLITZER: On our top story now -- the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, the shooting at an El Al ticket counter. Let's bring in Los Angeles -- the Israeli consul general in Los Angeles, Yuval Rotem. He joins me now live on the phone. Now Mr. Consul General, thanks for joining us. What is your latest information, sir, on this shooting?
YUVAL ROTEM, CONSUL GENERAL OF ISRAEL, LOS ANGELES: What we have, sir -- I'm just returning after spending the last three hours in the airport -- that today at approximately 11:30 a.m., a man armed with a gun and a knife entered the El Al airline ticket counter at LAX.
We realized that he began to direct gunfire at some 80 to 90 passenger waiting in the line. He, unfortunately, shot and killed two unarmed civilian: a young woman in her 20s, as well as a man in the mid-40s. We also realize that there were about four or five more individuals in the terminal were injured.
I have to admit that we are very proud of our security agents, in that they were able to respond quickly and immediately to the attack and were able to intercept and shot the gunman. I think that we have to recognize that the number of fatalities and injuries could have been, by far, more worse. But thanks to the quick response and the courage of our security agents, a much greater catastrophe was prevented.
BLITZER: Do you believe, Mr. Rotem, that this was an incident -- an isolated incident, a criminal incident or an act of terror?
ROTEM: Listen, Wolf, it looks -- it looks like terrorism. It seems like terrorism. Although we don't have any confirmation from any agency about the motivation and who is behind the attack, every indication is that it looks like terrorism. You know, we the people of Israel are fortunately (sic) too all familiar with suffering from terror attacks, and we have seen terror, and we know terror. And it looks like terrorism.
BLITZER: Why do you say that, if you don't know the identity of the killer?
ROTEM: Because the pattern, the way it was conducted, the way it was done, sounds too familiar from previous attacks that we have experienced throughout the years. Those who have tried to engage in attack Israeli El Al counters in different airports throughout the world.
So from the experience that we have accumulate and we went through, we presume, unfortunately, given this history, that this is most likely going to be one more terrorist attack against us. I didn't say it is, but I presume it is a terrorist attack.
BLITZER: Our reporter at LAX, Charles Feldman, is quoting three sources, law enforcement sources, saying the shooter, who is dead now, appears to have been an Arab male. Do you have any specific information on the individual who committed this act?
ROTEM: From the -- my discussion with our people in the airport, I can confirm that they also believe he looks like an Arab person, a Middle Eastern person.
BLITZER: But as you know, that could be very, very -- that could be very misleading.
ROTEM: I know.
BLITZER: There are plenty of Israelis, as you know, who could easily look like Middle Eastern or look, well, look like Arabs.
ROTEM: I know. I know it, and therefore, I am very careful in what I say. It seems like -- it looks like, I didn't say it is, but -- and we don't have any confirmation for that, but it -- we are so unfortunately familiar with that, that our belief at this very moment that it may lead to a terrorist attack.
BLITZER: As far as you know, did the shooter say anything, utter any words as he was engaged in this incident?
ROTEM: I asked specifically this question, the people that were there, some of our agents, and they didn't hear anything of the nature that was said in previous reports in other media outfits.
BLITZER: Yuval Rotem, Israel's consul general in Los Angeles. Thanks for joining us. Our deepest condolences to you for what happened at the El Al counter in Los Angeles. The FBI news conference has started in Los Angeles. Let's go there live.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
POMEROY: ... Bernard Wilson. I'd like to start off with the mayor of the City of Los Angeles, James Hahn. Mayor?
JAMES HAHN, MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: Thank you, chief. After the incident this morning, the shooting incident at Tom Bradley International Terminal, when the terminal was shut down, that did delay 20 out-bound international flights from LAX.
It affected approximately 6,000 passengers here. They were kept out of the terminal until approximately 4:15 p.m., when the public was allowed back into the terminal on the south part of Tom Bradley International Terminal.
That ticket lobby was reopened. The north side, where the shooting incident occurred, will remain closed for the FBI has concluded their investigation of that area.
The airport is resuming normal operations, even at Tom Bradley International Terminal. Other operations continue. And I did happen to speak to a couple that was traveling from Tennessee on their way to Osaka, Japan, who complimented Los Angeles on their security, complimented the quick reaction of all of our security personnel, including the airport police and Los Angeles police.
We believe that we have, you know, the best security in the world, but any time you have an open airport, you have risk and problems. We are going to continue to reassess our security plan to see what we need to do to make sure the traveling public is going to be safe and protected. LAPD will be deploying additional resources here throughout the weekend to make sure that LAX is as safe as we can make it.
Again, all the information we have received so far indicates to us that we want to reassure the public that we want people to enjoy the rest of the day, enjoy the fireworks displays tonight, enjoy the family picnics at the parks around Los Angeles. The investigation is still continuing, but we have no reason to believe that we need to do anything different than we are doing now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) at the airport.
HAHN: Our security perimeter is similar to security perimeters around the world. The idea behind the security has always been to prevent anyone from getting onto a plane with a weapon or any other dangerous device, that that point has usually been just outside the gate, when we only allowed ticketed passengers or those who have gone through security screening. We are going to look at this incident and see what we need to do to provide additional security.
But, you know, the difficulty I have always seen is that our present layout was not designed with security in mind. It's very difficult to overlay security, given the space constraints we have. But it doesn't mean that we can't learn from this event. We're certainly going to be in contact with the Transportation Security Agency and other security officials to see if we can, you know, do more to move that perimeter in any way. It obviously creates a lot of problems given the space constraints. But we are going to continue to re-evaluate security. Security is a -- an evolving science, and we want to do the best job that we can for the traveling public here at LAX.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you know about the suspect at this point?
HAHN: I think that that investigation is still continuing and, you know, I'll turn those kind of questions over to the FBI.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One more question for the interim. Do you see a need to check oncoming vehicles into the airport for firearms?
HAHN: Well, I think that that's, you know, something we're going to re-evaluate with the security personnel team here at the airport, with our Transportation Security Agency, with the police department, with airport security. We're going to talk about this incident and re-evaluate what we're doing.
As you know, we were one of the last airports to reopen the central terminal area to passenger vehicles, because we wanted to be very sure that we were going to be able to do that in a safe and effective way. We took our time in doing that; we felt that we reached a level of security that could protect everyone. But obviously, you know, we need to reassess everything; and we're going to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Richard Garcia (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Mr. Garcia?
POMEROY: Mr. Garcia has stepped forward just a moment, please. I'm Chief Pomeroy again. I'll speak to two issues. First of all, the initial response by uniform personnel today, and second of all, what this may mean for this night or the weekend as far as safety for our citizens.
Exercising an abundance of caution, we had a great number of resources available throughout this day and scheduled to appear during the weekend. So there was an immediate and a rapid response. The crime scene was secured; the safety of the public was ensured. I am very pleased at the way our forces responded.
Keep in mind, the department of airports has their own police department, a very competent group of people. They responded very rapidly; they did a very good job. And we were -- we were able to come on to the airport facilities here and support them in their mission.
As far as what our evaluation is for the risk for the remainder of the evening and throughout the weekend, we still find nothing going on in the country or locally that would indicate to us that there is any increased risk anywhere, particularly here in Los Angeles, particularly in any of our public venues tonight.
There is just no specific credible threat we know of. And so while we will be heavily deployed, as we had already planned to be, we are going to allow and recommend that events continue as planned throughout the evening. We did have, as we mentioned, heavy deployment during the weekend. We're going to find a way to reallocate some of those here to the airport. It would be our goal that everybody coming to the airport over the weekend sees a Los Angeles police officer, or a Department of Airport Police officer when they're here.
We want the comfort level to be very high with our traveling public. I think we'll be able to provide for the safety of all those who come to the airport. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) getting security to where it's supposed to be around the airport, around the country. Is there any more that can be done to screen people even further, outside of the machines, right now?
POMEROY: Well, it's a matter mentioned on some of your questions, maybe these are some questions that are legitimately asked tomorrow or Monday. I'm not so sure I can answer them properly today or make a judgment today. But certainly, we're going to have to examine issues like those.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We understand that El Al security killed this gunman. Was that done with a gun by security, and is it typical for airline security to carry weapons?
POMEROY: Since we are headed towards questions about the investigation, and all of those should be properly handled by the FBI, I'm going to give way to Mr. Garcia now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you answer that question?
RICHARD GARCIA, FBI: Before I answer that question, the assistant director, Ron Iden, for the Los Angeles office, is still in transit to this location. I have a special agent in charge, Jenna Monroe (ph) here, also, as my peer.
We both work criminal matters here. We're working together in trying to organize this investigation. She can also answer questions, too, as well. But to get into the suspect -- before we answer that particular question, the investigation to this point was still, as we said before, appears to be an isolated event.
We are still coordinating with the local law enforcement, as well. There are still no indications that this is tied to anything that may be going on throughout the country. The -- as far as the security person who, from the airline shot, supposedly, the suspect, that part of the investigation, even though you may have information through outside sources and such, which may or may not be true or correct, I cannot really comment on that in particular right now, and in the circumstances of whether the person was armed and why was he armed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you saying that it wasn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- are you saying the airline security did not kill this person?
GARCIA: No, I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is that I cannot say one way or another if that information is correct or not, because that's part of the investigation we're dealing with. Part of the investigation, you know, is to determine who was firing shots, who had what weapons and the type of weapons, and then what was the sequence of events that took place. And part of that investigation involves those particular questions you're asking. And I cannot comment on that right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you I.D. the suspect?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you identify the suspect for us?
GARCIA: No, we cannot identify the suspect at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he a local resident?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he have I.D. -- Did he have I.D. on him?
GARCIA: I'm sorry. We are still trying make a determination on the suspect, the true identity of the suspect. That investigation is still continuing. We have the coroner here as well, working with us. And so it's going to take time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several law -- several different law enforcement sources have told us that at least, based on appearances, which can be, of course, be deceptive, that the alleged gunman is apparently an Arab male, roughly 30 to 45 years of age and 200 pounds or so. Can you talk to that issue?
GARCIA: What I can say to that issue is that appearances don't necessarily mean the same thing. There's a lot of times that people can be passed as Arab males, who turn out to be Hispanic. It's hard to say just by appearances. So we cannot go on that visual aspect alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) passenger? Was he able to fly somewhere?
GARCIA: No, I cannot tell you that at this time either. We also need to make a determination to what the extent of activities that this person was, prior to arriving at the airport and what took place here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (OFF MIKE)
GARCIA: Have we pictured such a scenario? Well, anything is possible nowadays. You can go to a restaurant and do the same thing or just even the parking lot out here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (OFF MIKE)
GARCIA: It's hard to say. Depends on a lot of situations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) caught on videotape from anywhere else? Any video cameras in the area?
GARCIA: We are checking that aspect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is anybody else in custody in relation to this incident, other than, of course, the assailant (ph)?
GARCIA: Others that we know for relation to this incident, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Garcia, it's been five hours now. Can you tell us whether the gunman died from a gun shot wound?
GARCIA: That determination will not be made until an autopsy is made. But there appears to be gun shot wounds on the body.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did it appear to be?
GARCIA: There appear to be gun shot wounds on the body, but we can't make an official determination until the coroner does an autopsy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was there a security person was killed?
GARCIA: We can't say anything about the other victims. They're still pending notification of next of kin, and there's also hospital identifications being done at this time. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had heard earlier that there was an individual that was in -- who was in custody of the police and at least to be questioned, if not under arrest. Somebody who may have been seen in the vicinity with the alleged gunman earlier in the day. Did that in fact happen, or was that person questioned and released, or did it never happen at all?
GARCIA: You said you received that information from the police?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said we received it from law enforcement agencies.
GARCIA: Well, I'm sure there are some detentions of here, but -- to make a determination as to how it's connected to the actual shooting is still to be determined.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know how you go about determining whether or not this was, indeed, an act of terrorism? What are you looking into?
GARCIA: What we're looking into to determine if it's an act of terrorism? That usually helps, when we find out what the motive is. And from the motive we would make a determination if it's an act of terrorism. If, in fact, this person was working for a specific cause, for a national incident or something like that ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened before the shots were fired?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
GARCIA: We're still working a time line on that right now. I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF MIKE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you having trouble identifying who the suspect actually is?
GARCIA: Not necessarily trouble. We're just going through a methodical way of an investigation to ensure that we have the right people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he have an I.D.? A passport of I.D.?
GARCIA: Sorry, I can't comment on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did his I.D. or clothing indicate that he worked at the airport? As one of the employees or one of the airlines or other subcontractors?
GARCIA: I cannot answer that, sorry. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Garcia, we were told at the earlier briefing that the suspect was killed by El Al security. Are you now saying that's not true?
GARCIA: No, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that we're trying to make a time line of exactly who did what, and as far as the shooting, it's very obvious there were shots fired. It's very obvious we had individuals who died as a result of these gun shots. We just want to make a determination as to exactly what weapon was utilized and who used it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did any El Al security people open fire?
GARCIA: I cannot comment on that, sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were already told that in the first briefing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you told us that earlier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that or not? Is there anything new?
GARCIA: There is nothing new.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (OFF MIKE)
GARCIA: No, I'm not trying to contradict what was said to you this morning as far as security personnel. Security personnel was involved in the incident. The extent of what this person did as far as the shooting and such, we're still trying to make the exact determination. I'm not confirming or denying the fact that they were involved in the shooting. Sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We talked to a man standing next to the shooter just before the shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask this question.
POMEROY: You'll have the last question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. He was standing next to the shooter, and the shooter was arguing with the lady at the ticket counter and became so angry that he backed up, pulled his weapon out, shot. Five people jumped on him. He continued firing until another officer shot him and controlled him. Is that true?
GARCIA: That's what -- we're trying to make that determination.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you confirm those facts?
GARCIA: We are looking at that -- We are looking at that information specifically.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
POMEROY: OK. Thank you. Our intention is to allow ...
BLITZER: So that's the very latest from the FBI special agent who's leading this investigation at the Los Angeles International Airport, the shooting at the El Al ticket counter earlier today. Three people, including the shooter, dead, three others injured. CNN security analyst Kelly McCann is joining me now. He was listening. Your sense of what all this means as of right now, Kelly.
MCCANN: There were a couple of sensitivities that came out in that interview. One is the gun issue and was there jurisdiction for, perhaps, an international person, not a citizen of this country, to have a weapon there?
There was a push-back on that, Wolf, a little bit. Secondly, there is a contradictory -- contradiction of the eyewitness account. There were three accounts that said that he appeared to be Arab, but then prior to that statement being made, there was one of the correspondents that interviewed a security person, who said he was a "white guy." So again, it's a big unknown.
And there's no way to determine that until they know by race. They did release, though, his age. Strangely enough, the police did release his age as 52. So I'd assume that they know more than they're able to -- to, you know, release. So it will be interesting the way this plays out.
BLITZER: Just starting this investigation. Kelly McCann thanks for joining us. We'll going to have a lot more at the top of the hour on this L.A. shooting.
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