Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John Pistole, left, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday, to testify before the House subcommittee on Transportation Security hearing on the TSA’s SPOT Program and Initial Lessons From the LAX Shooting.
LOS ANGELES — An airport security officer lay helplessly bleeding after a gunman opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport as paramedics waited 150 yards away because police had not declared the terminal safe to enter, according to two law enforcement officials.
It would be 33 minutes before Transportation Security Administration Officer Gerardo Hernandez, who was about 20 feet from an exit, would be wheeled out by airport police to an ambulance, said the officials, who were briefed on the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe was still ongoing into the Nov. 1 shooting.
For all but five of those minutes, there was no threat from the suspected gunman — he had been shot and was in custody, they said.
While it’s not known when Hernandez died or if immediate medical attention could have saved his life, officials are examining what conversations took place between police and fire commanders to determine when it was safe enough to enter and whether paramedics could have gone into the terminal earlier, one of the officials said.
The head of the TSA union on Friday said he was appalled at the news. American Federation of Government Employees president J. David Cox Sr. called the situation “very concerning” and said there should be a serious reexamination of TSA security policies.
Formal conclusions could take months, but what’s known raises the possibility that a lack of coordination between police and fire officials prevented speedy treatment for Hernandez and other victims.
TSA workers at LAX have been wondering the same thing, said Victor Payes, who works at the airport and is president of the local union.
“I basically think there’s a lack of coordination between entities at this airport. That lack of coordination may have led to something that shouldn’t have happened,” Payes said. “We may be talking about Officer Hernandez as a survivor.”
Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, agreed that the incident highlights a failure in coordination and a power struggle between policing agencies. He said there were four command posts set up during the incident and no sense of who had command once the LAPD rolled in.
Officers from multiple agencies bent down to check on Hernandez before moving on, officials said.
Police broadcast over their radios that Ciancia was in custody at 9:25 a.m., five minutes after Hernandez was shot in the chest. That’s when a nearly 26-year veteran LAPD officer checked on Hernandez several times, repeatedly telling officers who came by from various agencies that he was dead, according to one of the law enforcement officials.
It’s unclear how that determination was made and whether the officer was qualified to make it. The LAPD officer declined to comment. No officers rendered first aid on scene, according to surveillance video reviewed by the officials.
McClain said he corroborated those details after speaking with the airport police officers involved. McClain said the LAPD officer was standing in front of Hernandez, obscuring him from view as he lay bleeding, telling other responding officers that Hernandez was dead.MORE IN Wire News
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