A man dressed as the character Zorro and carrying what turned out to be a plastic sword was briefly detained Sunday before a night of evacuations, flight delays and chaos at Los Angeles International Airport.
Airport police encountered the man at about 8:40 p.m. outside an LAX terminal just minutes before authorities received several false reports of an active shooter. Officers approached the man with weapons drawn "out of an abundance of caution," airport police said in a statement.
The man was briefly detained and questioned by police before he was released Sunday night, police said. Investigators found no connection between the two incidents.
"Apparently, he was here to pick up a passenger," said LAX Assistant Chief Dave Maggard.
The man told officers he often performs on Hollywood Boulevard, where costumed characters take photos with tourists near Highland Avenue.
Twitter user Sam Macon captured the Zorro confrontation on camera.
"Before things got really crazy - a man in a Zorro costume with a plastic sword was arrested," Macon tweeted.
Minutes after the encounter on the lower level of Terminal 7, police began receiving the first reports of shots fired at the airport. The reports turned out to be false, but led to evacuations and a ground stop as travelers flooded from terminals.
During the 30-minute ground stop, 23 arriving flights were diverted to other airports, including 12 to Ontario. About 120 arriving and departure flights were delayed and six cancellations occurred during the response.