LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Lapses in communications between agencies hampered the emergency response to a deadly shooting last year at Los Angeles International Airport, according to a report released Tuesday.
“I asked for this report to make sure that we do everything we can to ensure that we don’t depend on lucky, as well as the heroic work of our first responders,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “I also want to be clear that we got lucky that day — we’re lucky the shooter didn’t take more lives, we’re lucky that that day the casualty list wasn’t higher,” the mayor said.
The so-called “After Action” report on the Nov. 1, 2013, shooting that killed a Transportation Security Administration officer and left three other people wounded says communication failures left major commanders in the dark and caused a long delay in establishing a coordinated response, the Associated Press reported.
The 83-page report presented to the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners cited lapses in coordination and technology between various agencies, including police and fire departments, which set up separate command posts that didn’t unify for 45 minutes, according to the Associated Press.
The report offered dozens of recommendations aimed at bolstering security and emergency response, including better coordination with rescue organizations such as the American Red Cross, as well as with area businesses, transportation companies and nearby cities that might be able to provide evacuation sites and shelter to stranded passengers.
Garcetti said both city and airport agencies would take additional steps to improve security, including tactical emergency training for paramedics and firefighters and a review of active-shooter training protocols to include more agencies.
“To keep passengers informed during chaotic situations, the LAX is developing now a centralized public address system, and added 11 message signs for our roadways that can now send emergency messages directly to travelers’ cell phones when they’re at the airport,” Garcetti said.
In all, the report looked at 26 different areas including public safety, incident command, response operations and emergency management and preparedness.
KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports despite the recommendations, some travelers at LAX appeared to be divided over how to effectively counter any security threat without impeding passenger traffic.
“I think we should get smarter in the way we do it, but not just have people take off their shoes and their watches and their belts,” said one man.
CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Dave Lopez asked Garcetti whether all these recommendations, had they been in place the day of the shooting, would have saved the life of TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez.
The mayor responded, “I’m not going to speculate on the loss of someone’s life. I will say this: you can never protect 100 percent. I can’t say, standing here, that we can do everything to protect them, but I am going to make sure that we do everything we can to minimize that risk.”
The union representing Hernandez has criticized airport operations, saying “without the coordinated law enforcement response, functional equipment and police protection on the scene, TSO in Terminal 3 that day were sitting ducks,” adding, “We’re calling on the TSA to create a new unit of armed TSA law enforcement officers to defend our nation’s airport screening areas around the clock.”
Suspect Paul Ciancia, 24, was shot and quickly subdued by police during the shooting last November. The Pennsville, N.J., native has pleaded not guilty to 11 federal charges, including murder of a federal officer.
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