A man armed with two handguns and a knife killed two people today and injured several more in the main international ticketing area at Los Angeles International Airport before one El Al airline security guard seized him and another shot him dead.
Taking place on the Fourth of July holiday, when security officials had been on particularly keen watch for terrorist acts, the incident prompted an immediate shutdown of the Thomas Bradley International Terminal at the airport and the rerouting and curtailment of dozens of flights.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Mayor James K. Hahn said there was no immediate evidence of any political motivation behind the attack at a ticket counter for El Al, the Israeli airline. Some witnesses described the incident as an argument between two people that spun out of control. But another said the gunman began firing at the counter when he was 15 feet from it.
''Although we will have additional resources looking at some of the places where our citizens will gather this evening, we have not issued any kind of alert,'' said Martin Pomeroy, the city's acting police chief. ''We have not told anybody not to go. There is just no indication now that there is any risk in any location. This appears to be an isolated incident.''
But Israeli officials said that as far as they were concerned, it was a terrorist act.
''The fact that the person chose El Al, Israel's national airline, and that the attack took place today of all days, seems to indicate a connection,'' said Meirav Eilon Shahar, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Consulate here.
Even after visiting the airport late this afternoon and talking to investigators about witnesses' statements, Israeli officials said they were convinced it was a terrorist incident.
''Being over there and getting information from our people over there, I have to admit that it looks like terrorism,'' said Yuval Roten, Israel's consul-general in Los Angeles. ''The way it was conducted is very much similar to previous attacks throughout the years.''
The shooter was an Egyptian...
The wife of an Egyptian immigrant who fatally shot two people on the Fourth of July at Los Angeles International Airport said today that she could find no reason for the shooting.
''There is no motive that would make him do such a thing,'' the woman, Hala el-Awadly, said in a telephone interview. ''He is a quiet person who lived his life in peace. He carried no hatred for anyone, and he was never aggressive nor violent, never.''
American law enforcement officials have said her husband, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, 41, went to the counter of El Al, the Israeli airline, with the intention to kill people. Carrying two guns and a hunting knife, he killed two people and wounded several others before a guard shot him dead.
Mrs. Awadly, visiting her family here, said none of the American officials' potential explanations fit her husband of more than 12 years.
Federal investigators labelled the shooting a terrorist act.