David M. Bresnahan
LOS ANGELES -- Israel calls the shooting
at Los Angeles International Airport a terrorist event but U.S. investigators
say they are unsure.
driver Mohamed Hadayet, 41, began shooting people in front of the
El Al airline ticket counter yesterday. A security guard shot and
killed Hadayet. A drivers license found by police listed his birthday
as July 4, 1961, as well as a second birth date.
Los Angeles Police
and the F.B.I. are searching for evidence to determine whether the
act was terrorist connected, or just an act of violence. Israeli officials
say the daughter of Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was in the
airport at the time. They believe the gunman was attempting to locate
her when he was frustrated by an El Al ticket agent.
El Al ticket agent Victoria Hen, 25, and
Yaakov Aminov, 46, a jeweler and father of eight, were shot and killed
before an El Al guards shot Hadayet. Two security guards and a woman
were wounded, and another woman suffered heart problems. Aminov was
in the airport to drop off a friend
for a flight.
F.B.I. spokesman Matt McLaughlin told reporters
that terrorism is not being ruled out, "but there's nothing to
indicate terrorism at this point."
Hadayet, who had a
California gun permit, was carrying a Glock 45-caliber semiautomatic
handgun along with an unidentified 9 mm handgun, as well as a 6-inch
knife. In addition he had extra magazines with more ammunition for both
guns -- indicating the attack was thought out and planned in advance.
Dr. David Parkus, a
trauma surgeon from Texas was nearby when the shooting began, according
to an Associated Press report.
He said he saw one security guard wrestling
with Hadayet, then a second guard shot him. Parkus said one guard had
injuries to his head and was cut by a knife on the right arm. The second
guard was cut on the lower back and the left thigh, and also had a gunshot
wound to the right thigh.
Parkus said he held the
gunman as he died, then performed CPR on two victims, according to AP.
The international terminal was evacuated after
the shooting, and 35 flights were delayed affecting 10,500 passengers,
according to airport officials.
A bomb squad was called
in when Hadayet's car was found in the parking garage, but nothing was
In an announcement just day before the incident,
plans were revealed that LAX would undergo a major redesign that would
require all incoming passengers to go through security screening at
a remote site before taking trains to the terminals. The changes will
cost $9.6 billion to install and implement.
LAX was the intended target of terrorist
Ahmed Ressam who was captured on Dec. 14, 1999 trying to cross from
Canada into the U.S. with a car full of explosives.
© David M. Bresnahan - All Rights
David M. Bresnahan [email protected]
is an award-winning independent investigative journalist. He maintains an
archive of his work at http://www.InvestigativeJournal.com
and offers a free e-mail alert so you will not miss any of his news
stories or commentaries.