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September 18, 2014

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Violent car crash triggers erroneous LAX gun reports

Updated Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 | 11:05 p.m.

LOS ANGELES — A loud auto crash that some passengers thought was shots being fired and an anonymous call reporting a gunman prompted evacuations Friday night at two terminals of Los Angeles International Airport, officials said.

A woman driving on the airport's arrivals loop at about 7:30 p.m. lost control of her SUV, hitting another woman who was walking on a sidewalk before slamming into a parking garage across the roadway from Terminal 5, Los Angeles police Sgt. Mark Guardado said.

Rattled nerves remained at the airport after a shooting exactly three weeks ago in which a gunman killed a security officer and injured three other people.

"With what recently just occurred here, everybody's still a little bit on edge," Guardado said.

Sounds from the crash spurred reports of gunfire among the passengers inside the terminal, many of whom ran outside, airport police Chief Patrick Gannon said at a media briefing.

"It was determined relatively quickly that there was not a shooting," Gannon said.

Both women in the crash were injured, the pedestrian seriously, Guardado told KTTV-TV. The wreck was caused by a medical emergency with the driver, Gannon said. Details on women's conditions were not immediately available.

Meanwhile in neighboring Terminal 4, airport police received an anonymous call just after the crash reporting a gunman at a specific gate, Gannon said.

That prompted police to order a complete evacuation of both terminals while they investigated, but again no gunman was found and the terminals were deemed safe Gannon said.

Passengers and workers were allowed to return, but had to be rescreened by security, causing a huge bottleneck of people trying to get back in.

The false alarms made trouble for travelers on a busy Friday night, backing up traffic coming into the airport and delaying departing flights while passengers struggled to get to their gates. Terminal 4 is home to American, American Eagle and Qantas airlines. Terminal 5 is occupied solely by Delta Airlines.

"It took us a couple of hours to clear those terminals," Gannon said. "It created quite a disturbance here at the airport."