Rep. Waters: LAX shooting response ‘simply unacceptable’

The response of emergency personnel to the shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport was “simply unacceptable,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said Wednesday.

Waters’ comments followed the release of a critical report by the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) reviewing the circumstances that surrounded the Nov. 1 LAX shooting, which resulted in the first death of an on-duty Transportation Security Administration (TSA) since the agency’s inception in 2002.  

Waters said the report “explains how problems in coordination between various police and fire departments resulted in multiple command posts at different locations that did not unify for 45 minutes. 

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"Incompatible radio systems interfered with emergency response efforts, and many of the airport’s red phones and panic buttons were not working properly,” the California congresswoman said in a statement. “When a TSA agent picked up a red phone immediately after the first shots were fired, the airport police operator who answered the call had no way to determine where the call originated.”

Waters said it was incumbent on Los Angeles officials to make improvements to their emergency communications systems because LAX is the third-busiest airport in the U.S.

"The emergency response failures included in this report are simply unacceptable,” Waters said. “I expect to hear more from LAWA on how the recommendations in this report will be implemented and what other measures will be taken to improve emergency response protocols and protect the millions of people who frequent this airport."

The LAX shooting occurred when a gunman opened fire in the airport’s Terminal 3 on the morning of Nov. 1, resulting in the death of TSA Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez.

The shooting jolted the U.S. aviation industry, causing some TSA supporters to revive calls for the agency’s workers to be armed at airport security checkpoints.

“Without a coordinated law enforcement response, functional equipment and police protection on the scene, TSOs in Terminal 3 that day were sitting ducks,” American Federation of Government Employees David Cox said in a statement.

“With such a blatant lack of support for TSO safety, it is only by the grace of God that more damage was not done that day,” Cox continued. “We are calling on TSA to create a new unit of armed TSA law enforcement officers to defend our nation’s airport screening areas around the clock. This will ensure a consistent, professional, and coordinated response in the event an incident like this occurs again.”

The full LAWA report on the Los Angeles airport shooting can be read here.