Déjà Vu of False Reports of Shots Fired at an Airport — This Time, in Los Angeles

R eports from multiple sources indicated that shots were fired at Terminals 6, 7 and 8 of Los Angeles International Airport at approximately 8:45 in the evening last night, Sunday, August 28, 2016. Those terminals were reportedly evacuated by passengers…

…but no evidence of shots fired by anyone was confirmed, which resulted in what appeared to be another false alarm at a major international airport in the United States in two weeks.

Operations at the airport have reportedly returned to normal this morning.

Déjà Vu of False Reports of Shots Fired at an Airport — This Time, in Los Angeles

“During the 30-minute ground stop, 27 arriving flights were diverted to other airports — 12 diverting to Ontario International Airport. By early Monday morning, passengers from just one diverted flight had yet to arrive at LAX”, according to this article written by Dan Weikel, Ruben Vives and Brittny Mejia for the Los Angeles Times. “There were 281 arrivals and departures that were delayed, according to the airport. Airlines reported two canceled flights.”

An investigation by police as to what exactly caused the incident to occur is still ongoing; but a review of footage from closed-circuit security television indicated that no shots were fired — but “loud noises” apparently incited the resulting panic, which caused some passengers to run out onto the restricted airfield.

One man — supposedly armed with a plastic sword — was detained, questioned and released.

Coincidences Between the Two Incidents

There are some bizarre coincidences between this non-incident and the one which occurred at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York two weeks prior — almost exactly to the minute:

  • Both incidents occurred on a Sunday evening — at approximately 8:45 and 9:30 in Los Angeles and New York respectively
  • Terminal 8 was one of the terminals involved at both airports
  • At least one terminal was temporarily shut down to traffic
  • Police officers had set up a command post
  • Operations of flights were temporarily halted, causing flights to be delayed or canceled


Perhaps the relative quiet of a major international airport on a Sunday night as compared to other times are what contributed to the incidents in New York and Los Angeles, where the “loud noises” would otherwise not be pronounced due to the normally increased noise level?

In addition to the recent activity in places such as Brussels, Paris and Nice, could the upcoming 15th anniversary of the terror attacks which occurred on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 also be a contributing factor to what seems to be increased sensitivity and fear amongst people in general?

The panic of people at both airports in New York and Los Angeles have inconvenienced thousands of passengers with delayed and canceled flights; used up the precious resources of law enforcement and other entities; and cost thousands of dollars which did not need to be spent. As with any false alarm, there are consequences — and we need to do what we can to reduce the occurrence of these false alarms. Perhaps the volume of televisions of airport merchants need to be lowered at off-peak hours as a start.

While I can understand the initial reaction of fear, people have to stop being so afraid that loud noises would cause undue panic, as that is exactly what terrorists want. Everything we do in life comes with at least some modicum of risk — and people have to accept that fact. I continue to be amazed at how frightened are people pertaining to a chance at being directly affected by an act of terrorism when there is a far greater chance of being killed in a car crash — and yet few people are afraid to step into a car.

We have to show terrorists and other people who want to dictate how we live our lives that we are indeed not afraid. Living in fear is like living in a prison; and when part of the source of that fear is self-imposed, we cannot live our lives to the fullest.

In my opinion, keen and acute awareness of your surroundings is one of the most important ways to protect yourself — as well as to reduce the chances of being involved in an unnecessary display of panic by other people, which would reduce the number of unwarranted incidents which have occurred at major international airports such as the ones in New York and Los Angeles.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

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