A mistaken public announcement that a gunman was on the loose at a Los Angeles International Airport terminal sent about 20 passengers fleeing from the gate area and onto the tarmac Monday, authorities said.
The "misinformed" announcement from the public address system apparently stemmed from police activity outside Terminal 2, where officers had pursued an unarmed driver to the departures level, LAX Police Sgt. Belinda Joseph said.
Police had responded to an emergency call around 9 a.m. that a man may be trying to commit suicide off airport property. They apprehended the man, and the fire department took him to a hospital for treatment of an unspecified condition -- but "someone said that there was a man with a gun, which was not true," Joseph said.
Somehow, that rumor made it onto the public address system. It was not immediately clear who made the announcement.
About 20 passengers reached the tarmac through emergency doors near the gates, airport police Sgt. Karla Ortiz said. The travelers were "under observation the whole time" they were near planes, and officers got things under control within 15 minutes, Joseph said.
The incident comes after a gunman targeted LAX in November 2013, killing a Transportation Security Administration screening agent. Paul Ciancia faces federal charges that could bring the death penalty. The New Jersey native has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges.
In 2002, a limousine driver opened fire at a ticket counter, killing an airline employee and a person who was dropping off a friend.