About 20 travelers at Los Angeles International Airport fled through the emergency doors of Terminal 2 and out onto the tarmac Monday after someone in the gate area falsely spread news about an armed man on the loose, authorities said. According to LAX Police Sgt. Belinda Joseph, the “misinformed announcement” was the result of a police pursuit of an unarmed driver that ended outside Terminal 2. Police were responding to a 911 call around 9 a.m. Monday that reported a man attempting suicide on airport property.
Social media likely fueled the flames: Someone posted a message on Twitter saying there was a man with a gun in Terminal 2 at LAX.
“But that was completely inaccurate,” Joseph told KCBS, Los Angeles. “There never was anyone with a gun out at Terminal 2.”
Police and fire authorities eventually apprehended the man, who was taken to the hospital for treatment. It’s unclear how the rumor of the man having a gun was started, or who spread the false information.
The passengers who fled to the tarmac were near parked planes, but authorities were able to get things under control within 15 minutes, Joseph told the Associated Press.
“They just went outside and told them the accurate information, and the passengers went on their flights,” Joseph said.
It’s possible passengers were spooked because LAX has been the site of gun violence in the past: A man shot and killed a TSA agent and wounded three other people in 2013. In 2002, a limo driver pulled out a gun and started shooting at an LAX ticket counter, killing two people.