warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Worst LAX Security Breaches In Recent History

Chrystal Li |
November 1, 2013 | 8:08 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX/TimBrady, Wikimedia Commons
Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX/TimBrady, Wikimedia Commons
The fatal Nov. 1 shooting of a TSA employee at Los Angeles International Airport was not the first case of violence at one of the world’s busiest airports.

SEE ALSO: LAX Shooting: TSA Employee Killed, Multiple People Injured

LAX has seen a considerable amount of crime over its long history. As a major domestic and international gateway—more than 63 million passengers passed through the airport last year, according to its website—it’s an appealing target for everything from bomb plots to luggage theft. (It’s also the frequent setting for fights between celebs and paparazzi that inevitably end in arrest.)

Throughout the years, local media outlets have criticized L.A.’s main airport for security issues, which both LAWA and TSA have made efforts to fix. Still, several serious—and sometimes deadly—crimes have played out in the airport’s terminals. Here are four of the worst security breaches at LAX in recent years.

November 2013 shooting: On the morning of Nov. 1, 2013, a man armed with a rifle opened fire inside LAX’s Terminal 3. The shooter, 23-year-old Paul Ciancia, killed one TSA officer and injured six other people before being subdued by airport police. Ciancia’s motive for the shooting is still unknown, though emerging evidence suggests he specifically targeted the TSA. The deceased officer was the first TSA employee killed on duty since the agency was created in 2001. (To learn more about the shooting, read Neon Tommy’s coverage.)

October 2013 dry ice bombings: A dry ice bomb exploded inside an employee restroom at Terminal 2 the evening of Oct. 13, 2013. No one was injured from the explosion, but the next day three more bottles filled with dry ice were discovered in another restricted area of the airport. Two LAX employees, Dicarlo Bennett and Miguel Angel Iniguez, were arrested for planting the bombs.

2011 drug smuggling scheme: In April 2012, two current and two former TSA employees were arrested for taking bribes from drug smugglers while working at LAX. The screeners were reportedly each paid as much as $2,400 to let luggage filled with cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana pass through security checkpoints. Authorities said the screeners passed more than 20 kilograms of drugs through the airport between February and July 2011.

July 2002 shooting: On July 4, 2002, a limousine driver approached the El Al airlines ticket counter in the Tom Bradley International Terminal and began shooting. Later identified as 41-year-old Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, the gunman killed a female customer service agent and a male passenger, and wounded four others before he was shot and killed by a security guard. FBI investigators later found evidence indicating that Hadayet, an Egyptian national, held anti-Israeli views, and concluded that his attack on an Israeli airline was an act of terrorism.

Read more about the recent LAX shooting here.

Reach Executive Producer Chrystal Li here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.