Police say no shooter at LA airport after panicked passengers flee terminal onto tarmac for safety

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 August, 2016, 1:17pm
UPDATED : Monday, 29 August, 2016, 2:11pm

Police have dismissed reports of an active shooter at Los Angeles International Airport, saying the scare came from “loud noises”.

No gunman has been found and no shots were fired after reports of an active shooter brought a scare to hundreds of travellers.

Los Angeles police spokesman Andy Neiman said that the reports were spurred by loud noises only, and police are still investigating to find the source of them.

The reports caused people to pour on to sidewalks and out on to the tarmac at the airport.

Later, people could be seen walking back into the airport and flights starting to take off again.

The incident follows a panicked evacuation at New York’s Kennedy Airport earlier this month, first blamed on an active gunman, but was most likely triggered by boisterous celebrations over Usain Bolt’s gold medal victory in the 100-metre dash.

Studies have shown that behaviour can spread quickly through crowds.

In 1968, for example, the famed psychologist Stanley Milgram and colleagues planted actors on a New York City street, gazing up at a window above, and found that the percentage of passers-by who followed suit rose markedly with the number of actors.

“There’s a natural tendency to do what people around you are doing,” says William Warren, a Brown University cognitive scientist who studies behavioural coordination among groups of people.

So in a crowded setting such as an airport, “if other people around you start to run, even if there’s no apparent reason or cause, you feel like you better start running, too,” he said.