LAX Shooting Revelations Raise 'What Ifs'
AP talks to sources who say armed officers had left the screening area
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2014 6:41 AM CST
In this Nov. 1, 2013 photo provided to the AP, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, police officers stand near a weapon at the Los Angeles International Airport.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – The Associated Press has talked to two unnamed law enforcement officials about the Nov. 1 shooting at LAX, and the officials reveal a number of potential missed opportunities. A major one: There were two armed officers assigned to patrol the TSA screening area where authorities say Paul Ciancia opened fire, killing one and wounding three—except they had gone on break and hadn't told a dispatcher they were doing so, as is required. One was reportedly on a bathroom break in or near a neighboring terminal; the other was in a car outside the terminal, en route to a meal break.

The airport police union chief countered that both were in a position to respond quickly, and explained that it's typical to "get to your [lunch] location and you tell them that you're there" so as not to lose break time while traveling. That left the area staffed only by unarmed TSA officers—who themselves failed to hit the panic button or call for help as they fled. An airline contractor eventually placed a call to a police dispatcher, who then radioed officers. That amounted to a nearly 90-second lag. Within a minute of that somewhat belated call, the two armed officers had reacted, says the union chief: one had stopped someone who ran out of the terminal and the other was heading toward the scene. The coroner determined TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez died within five minutes of being shot.