LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles International Airport was ill prepared for a crisis when a gunman ambushed security officers last year, and the emergency response was hindered by communication problems and poor coordination, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press.
The report to be made public Tuesday afternoon was prepared by a consultant based on findings by several agencies that responded to the shooting and a review of camera footage, dispatch logs and 911 calls. It looked at flaws in various divisions of the airport and systems that were in place but did not single out individuals responsible for problems.
The lengthy report cited the heroism of officers who shot and arrested Paul Ciancia after a Transportation Security Administration officer was killed and three other people were injured on Nov. 1. Ciancia, 24, a Pennsville, N.J. native, has pleaded not guilty to 11 federal charges, including murder of a federal officer.
The report also detailed lapses in technology and coordination and included some 50 recommendations and a list of lessons learned from the shooting.
"Had the attacker not been highly selective in his targets, and/or had there been multiple attackers with weapons of greater lethality, the outcome might have been far different," the report said.
Various agencies were hampered by poor communication. Airport police had previously upgraded to a $5.4 million high-tech radio system but often couldn't communicate with the 20-plus agencies that responded to the shooting.
Senior police and fire commanders had no idea where to go or what the others were doing, and they didn't unify multiple command posts for 45 minutes. Commanders didn't meet until about 90 minutes after the shooting.
In addition, there was nearly no communication between command post officials and the airport's emergency operations center, which the report described as being staffed by untrained mid-level managers.
Fire officials concerned about gunfire set up their command post away from Terminal 3, which made it harder to coordinate with police and delayed rescuing victims.
The AP has reported that the TSA worker killed was not taken to an ambulance for 33 minutes. The report called for training airport police in tactical medicine so they can help the injured before paramedics arrive.
The review also confirmed earlier AP reports, including that a TSA supervisor picked up a red phone immediately after the first shots were fired and hastily fled as the gunman approached.
The airport police dispatcher who answered the call "only heard the sounds of shouting and gunshots. With no caller identification for a call from a Red Phone, and no one on the other end of the line, it was not initially known from where the call originated," the report states.
Technical malfunctions were discovered at the Terminal 3 checkpoint and an airportwide audit later found some red phones and panic buttons weren't working properly. The report called for updating the airport's emergency phones, how dispatchers receive 911 calls as well as improving security cameras.
The report recommended that airport police look for flaws in security deployments because the gunman wasn't deterred by or stopped at an airport police checkpoint. Absent from the report was mention that two airport police officers assigned to Terminal 3 were out of position without notifying dispatchers, as required, when the shooting erupted.
The report also didn't discuss a decision months prior to the shooting to have police officers roam terminals instead of staffing security checkpoints such as the one approached by the shooter.
Other recommendations included improving the public announcement system and better emergency training of the entire airport community and other agencies that responded. The AP reported that a union representing service workers found that sky caps, baggage handlers and security employees had no idea what to do, were not trained for an evacuation and didn't know how to help passengers.
The report was highly critical of the Los Angeles World Airports emergency management program, which it said was "not well-defined or widely understood across the agency, or perhaps even respected."
The airport prepared a draft plan for dealing with a shooter in March 2013, but officials on the airport's emergency management committee couldn't reach a consensus on it so it was never circulated.
Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams
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