LAX returning to normal after shooting

Transportation Security Administration employees help passengers getting back their luggage at Los Angeles International Airport's Terminal 3 on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. A gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire at the airport on Friday, killing a Transportation Security Administration employee and wounding two other people in an attack that frightened passengers and disrupted flights nationwide.
AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Updated 7:17 PM ET

Operations are returning to normal at Los Angeles International Airport following Friday's shooting that killed a TSA officer and closed parts of the airport.

Airport officials say LAX's Terminal 3 is open as of early Saturday afternoon. Travelers who left their belongings behind in the shooting's aftermath are asked to work with their airline to claim possessions.

Thousands of fliers across the U.S. were delayed after the closed parts of the airport. The prolonged shutdown at the nation's third-largest airport was particularly troublesome for those hoping to head to the East Coast or across the Pacific Ocean.

About 1,550 flights with 167,000 passengers were affected, airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said in a statement Saturday.

Of those, 724 were scheduled arrivals with an estimated 67,850 passengers and 826 were departures with an estimated 99,200 passengers on board.

The situation was improving by Saturday. Daniel Baker, CEO of flight tracking site FlightAware, said in an email Saturday that there were "no notable delays" and 28 cancellations related to the LAX shooting.

After Friday's shooting, flights bound for Los Angeles that had not yet taken off were held at their gates for hours by the Federal Aviation Administration. The so-called ground stop lasted several hours. Some flights already in the air were allowed to land at LAX, while others diverted to nearby airports. Some passengers who landed at LAX after the shooting spent at least two hours sitting on planes parked in a remote corner of the airport.

The ripple effect was felt across the country.

Tasi Lua arrived at LAX after the shooting Friday, but was unable to board his flight to Denver. He found a corner in Terminal 2, plugged in his laptop and cellphone and slept on the floor.

"I'm used to traveling, and things happening. It wasn't too bad," said the 25-year-old. "I could see other people who weren't taking it as well."

Even though the airport never fully closed, travelers trying to fly out were unable to reach it because of massive road closures.

Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, which operates the Los Angeles airport, said it will take "quite a deal of time" to get operations back to normal. She said it will be a "carefully orchestrated logistical ballet."

LAX's Terminal 3, where the shooting occurred, was closed Saturday morning as the forensics investigation continued. Only the ticket counter and parking structure were open.

On Friday, shots rang out inside the airport just before 9:30 a.m., leading to a stampede of terrified people trying to exit the airport.

The shooting began at the TSA checkpoint in Terminal 3, when police say 23-year-old Paul Ciancia pulled a semi-automatic rifle out of his bag.

This photo provided by the FBI shows Paul Ciancia, 23. Authorities say Ciancia pulled a semi-automatic rifle from a bag and shot his way past a security checkpoint at the airport, killing a security officer and wounding other people.
AP Photo/FBI

"He proceeded up into the screening area, where TSA screeners are, and continued shooting and went past the screeners back into the airport itself," Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon told reporters.

"I heard gunshots, so we all went to the ground, and then a few seconds later I saw him coming up the elevator with his gun pointed, and he just kept walking in towards the terminal," witness Andrea Trujillo said.

Police say Ciancia killed one TSA officer and wounded two others. He then moved down the long Terminal 3 concourse toward the gate area. Some passengers who could not get out of the terminal packed into restroom stalls for cover.

Officers soon confronted Ciancia and exchanged fire before seizing him.

"Unfortunately, it involved an officer-involved shooting, but that's what needed to be done in that particular situation, and that was heroic," Gannon told reporters.