The rapid police response to today's deadly shooting at a terminal in the Los Angeles Int'l Airport (LAX) was no accident, according to LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon, because his officers prepared for an event identical to the shooting weeks in advance.
"We practiced to this not more than 3 weeks ago," said Gannon at a press conference hours after the shooting. "We took every one of our patrol officers and a couple hundred officers from the Los Angeles Police Department and we practiced the exact scenario we played out today."
Photographs of the training exercise were published on October 18 on the Facebook page for Team LAX, which is the official sports and events page for the LAX police. The images from the drill show police officers drawing semi-automatic rifles in an simulated attempt to eliminate hostile threats and lead air travelers to safety. Officers at the Ontario, California airport conducted similar active shooter drills earlier in the month.
LAX police officers prepared for the possibility of a shooting at the airport with training exercises like those shown in the images above.
According to Gannon, the practice helped ensure that the threat posed by the shooter was neutralized before he could increase the body count. "I was talking to the officers involved in this particular incident a few minutes ago, and they said that that training was critical to how they responded to this," he added.
This isn't the first time that a gunman has opened fire inside an LAX terminal. In July 2002, Egyptian national Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, a member of the Muslim brotherhood, shot and killed two people at the El Al Airlines ticket counter at LAX and wounded four others before El Al security officer Chaim Sapir gunned him down.
The connection between today's airport shooting and the drills that preceded it is also reminiscent of the circumstances surrounding the 7/7 London transit bombing in 2005. Hours after the attack, British crisis management specialist Peter Power told ITV news that his company, Visor Consultants, was performing a simulation of the bombing of the London subway and bus system at the same time as the real incident occurred. "We based our scenario on the simultaneous attacks on the underground and mainline station," he explained, "so we had to suddenly switch an exercise from fictional to real." The company that Visor was consulting for at the time of the bombing has not been disclosed.