PREVIOUS UPDATE, FRIDAY PM: Cable news networks exercised extreme caution covering the shootout at LAX this morning when a gunman opened fire with a high-powered rifle at a security area and made his way deep into Terminal 3 before being wounded and apprehended — a shooting that left one TSA agent dead, and actors and network execs reporting for news operations.
In the cable news First To Bulletin Race: Fox News Channel broke in first, at 12:42:43 PM ET, followed by CNN at 12:44:38 and MSNBC 12:46:34 to cover the shooting that left injured seven — six of whom were sent to local hospitals, including the gunman, who was shot multiple times in the chest by an LAPD officer.
James Franco was on the scene — of course he was — though stuck in a plane at LAX. “At #lax Some S**tbag shot up the place” he tweeted, also Instagramming a pic of himself stuck on the plane. Tim Daly called in to CNN and delivered one of the most colorful initial reports from the scene. He’d been in a VIP lounge at Terminal 3 when the gunman was wounded and apprehended very nearby, in the vicinity of Gate 35, he said. Very quickly after the shooting “The LAPD burst into the lounge…weapons drawn, herding everybody together to make sure there were no bad guys in the lounge,” he described, noting that “having a gun pointed at you” in real life is a harrowing experience. He complimented authorities for doing “an outstanding job trying to keep people calm” and said he and others were locked in the lounge for “almost an hour” and when they were brought out, he saw a rifle and several clips on the ground about 30 feet away, as well as a blood and broken glass. Authorities told them to be careful not to disturb the blood or glass as they moved to the tunnel.
But Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters personality Tory Belleci is credited with breaking the new that something was up at LAX when he tweeted at 9:23 AM:”Something crazy is doing down at LAX. People running everywhere. We just got evacuated.” He and Mythbusters colleague Grant Imahara were in Terminal 3 at the time of the shooting, en route to Delaware for the filming of Discovery’s Punkin Chunkin. The two are tentatively booked to tell their stories to CNN’s Anderson Cooper tonight; Belleci was closer to the shooting, at Gate 33, while Imahara was also in the Virgin Airlines lounge. “During evac, I counted officers from Airport Police, LAPD, Homeland Security & other local PDs. All calm, all working together. Thanks guys!” Imahara tweeted about two hours after the gunfire.
AMC’s Lionsgate period drama Mad Men was the only thing filming at the airport today, according to officials at the LAX film office. The crew of about 20-30 had just completed the scene they were filming, at Terminal 4, before shooting occurred and, like many others at LAX, were held in limbo while authorities investigated the shooting. Only late this afternoon was the crew at the airport –able to get the last of their equipment out of the airport, and they had to literally walk it out – no trucks allowed.
“There are a couple hundred people standing there not knowing what to do. Mostly people exiting the airport on foot, walking down Century (Blvd),” CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl told the local CBS station this morning as he stood outside the terminal. “Holy crap, @calibadger is live from LAX on KCBS/KCAL right now as an eyewitness of the chaos there,” tweeted TV Guide Los Angeles bureau chief Michael Schneider. Kahl told Deadline he noticed something was wrong as he approached the airport by car, discovered they could not get the car into the airport and parked at a remote location and walk in. He was stopped by police and sat outside the airport for a while, making alternate travel plans, and talking to the CBS station about what he was observing. Among those stranded by the shooting, How I Met your Mother co-creator/exec producer Craig Thomas was in the terminal waiting for his flight home. “I was at LAX Terminal 3 this morning, waiting to fly to New York – I had to run for my life, with many others…,” he tweeted at 1:44 PM.
It was the first big live breaking news event for Shepard Smith’s new Fox News Deck, which he used to full capacity. The 38-foot video wall showed chopper footage of LAX and interviews with witnesses, as did various other monitors. Smith frequently went to the set’s 55-inch touchscreen monitor to read out emails and statements from officials. Like his competitors, Smith was careful with information. “I must tell you that there are reports that someone has lost his life. Fox News does not have those confirmed and will wait for authorities to give us an indication of exactly what they can confirmed,” said Smith at around 11:35 AM PT today; similar comments came from CNN and MSNBC. Networks began reporting sources confirmed to them that one TSA agent had been killed at around 11:38.
“These reports are everywhere. Multiple sources have reported to multiple news organizations that he was,” said Smith after the news conference at LAX, in re why reporters at the news conference were asking if the shooter was also a TSA officer. The FNC anchor cited the LA Times as reporting the story. “Fox News cannot confirm that and the authorities did not confirm it for us. Quite frankly to get ahead of ourselves on that matter would be a mistake,” Smith added. (Later, Smith noted the LAT had updated its report to say the shooter was a ticketed passenger.) CNN left it to Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif) to first report on its air that the gunman was 23 year-old American citizen, and LA area resident, named Paul Ciancia. She did so while being interviewed by Jake Tapper, also revealing that at least two of those injured are TSA employees. Almost immediately after that interview Tapper turned to CNN’s justice correspondent Evan Perez, who said the FBI was still working to confirm motivation, “as with the name of the suspect, which the congresswoman just said on our air.” Perez said the FBI had taken some material from the suspect at the scene that described “anti federal government views…anti-TSA expression.”
Fox News was first cable news net to return to regularly scheduled programming, Your World With Neil Cavuto.