Just minutes before a gunman opened fire in Los Angeles International Airport last fall, killing a TSA security screener and wounding three other people, the two armed security officers assigned to the area left for breaks without informing a dispatcher as required, The Associated Press reports.
The Los Angeles Airport Police Department officers were outside Terminal 3 when the alleged shooter Paul Ciancia opened fire with an assault rifle in an attack targeting TSA officers, AP reports. During the shooting, the unarmed TSA officers fled the screening area without hitting a panic button or using a landline to call for help. An airline contractor had to call a police dispatcher, who then alerted officers over the radio – a lag of nearly a minute and a half, the article reports.
When the shooting started, two law enforcement officials (who spoke to AP under a request of anonymity) say, one of the armed officers assigned to the terminal was at or just outside the adjacent terminal on a bathroom break, and the other foot-beat officer was in a vehicle on the tarmac outside Terminal 3, headed for a meal break.
Departmental procedures require that officers notify a dispatcher before going on break and leaving their patrol area in order to ensure supervisors are aware of their absence and can, if necessary, order a relief unit to cover their area, AP reports.