Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci, co-hosts of the Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters,” were at Terminal 3 of Los Angeles International Airport on Friday morning when a gunman went on shooting spree.
A man later identified as Paul Ciancia, 23, of Pennsville, N.J., pulled a semiautomatic rifle from a bag and shot his way past a security checkpoint, killing one TSA officer and wounding two others. Ciancia was wounded in a firefight with police and taken into custody. The slain officer, Gerardo Hernandez, 39, is the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the 12-year history of the agency.
Terrified travelers were sent running for cover and LAX, the nation’s third-busiest airport, was shut down.
Neither Imahara nor Belleci witnessed the shootings, but their tweets gave the outside world an idea of what was going on inside the terminal. The two were not together but kept in touch via Twitter. Both were on their way to Delaware for Science Channel’s “Pumpkin Chunkin” event.
Following are some of Imahara’s tweets.
9:26 a.m.: “Something just happened at #LAX. TSA and police running everywhere.
9:42 a.m.: “I was in the Virgin lounge upstairs. Saw everyone pour out of the terminal onto the tarmac. Then I heard shots fired outside.”
9:44 a.m.: “Virgin promptly locked the lounge doors. About ten minutes later, LAPD armed with automatic weapons arrived to secure the area.”
9:45 a.m.: “Waiting to evacuate, watching TV to find more info.”
10:33 a.m.: “Alarms still ringing in the terminal as we are being evacuated.”
10:57 a.m.: “There’s an army of law enforcement from various agencies here.”
10:58 a.m.: “We’re the last to evacuate the terminal.”
11:04 a.m.: “Look at this picture a little closer. Something on the ground.” (Possibly the gunman’s weapon)
11:08 a.m.: “We’re on hold in one of the exit tunnels waiting to be transported to the command post.”
Belleci summed up the experience by tweeting, “Shooters in #LAX. That was f***ing terrifying!”
Imahara later told Entertainment Weekly, “They moved us in groups with armed officers all around us. There’s a large FBI and Homeland presence and I’ve seen uniforms from every local police force — Newport, Hermosa, Hawthorne, Torrance — everybody’s here …
“One of the creepiest things was how quiet the airport was. It was like the whole airport held its breath for what seemed like an hour. Then it seemed to exhale. They had us go through a security line. It was the most orderly security line ever.”