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Two Dead in L.A. Airport Shooting

July 4, 2002

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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A gunman opened fire Thursday at the ticket counter of Israel’s El Al airlines at Los Angeles International Airport, killing one person before being shot dead, police said.

Police said a gunman approached someone at the terminal and opened fire. Byron Tucker, a spokesman for Gov. Gray Davis, confirmed that an El Al security guard fatally shot the gunman.

No other details about the two people killed were immediately available.

A witness, Thad Weimlein, described an initial flurry of fire at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at midday, followed by silence, then more gunfire.

In a cellphone interview with CNN, he said he saw plainclothes policemen pulling out their guns and badges at the same time.

At first, ``a lot of people thought it was fireworks and a prank,″ Weimlein told CNN. ``It was probably eight to 10 shots. People were hitting the floor.″

The shootout happened with security on high alert around the country for a possible terrorist attack on July Fourth.

FBI agents were at the scene but there was no indication of the shooter’s identity or nationality. There was no initial indication of his motive.

El Al, based in Israel, is known as one of the most security-conscious airlines in the world.

Other details of the shooting also were sketchy but at least five ambulances were at the airport, where planes continued to land and take off soon after the shooting.

After the shooting, much of the airport was closed off and thousands of people were evacuated.

Traffic was stopped on the roadway for departing passengers but moving steadily along the roadway serving arrivals.

Fire officials deployed a team to check for hazardous materials.

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