'Loud Noises,' Mistaken For Gunfire, Cause Panic At LAX

Hundreds of travelers poured onto the airport's tarmac late Sunday.

Reports of a security breach at Los Angeles International Airport prompted officials to evacuate hundreds of panicked travelers from the facility late Sunday evening. But what was feared to be gunfire was actually just “loud noises,” according to the LAPD’s media spokesperson.

Andy Neiman, the head of media relations for the police department, sent out a tweet about an hour after the evacuations began, confirming there were no shots fired and no injuries following the incident.

Officials are still investigating the source of the noises.

Hundreds of terrified travelers fled several terminals around 9 p.m., swarming the tarmac as authorities shut down large sections of the airport. NBC’s Lester Holt, who had just arrived at LAX, posted several videos to his Facebook page describing a panicked situation. He said some security officers told passengers there were “shots fired” and to “run.”

The incident was nearly identical to the panic that swept New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport earlier this month when fans’ loud cheers during a Usain Bolt race at the Olympics were mistaken for gunfire. The resulting police response shut down one of the nation’s busiest airports for hours in an effort to clear the area of danger.

A temporary ground stop was lifted at LAX shortly after 10 p.m. local time, but the area still remained snarled in traffic. Passengers were being advised to contact their airlines for flight status.