TODAY   |  November 02, 2013

‘I feared for my life’: Shooting witnesses speak out

Three survivors of the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport told TODAY's Erica Hill of chaos in the moments after a man allegedly entered the airport and opened fire.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> among the terrified travelers who ran for covers as the shots rang out in the termin terminal are joining us now. you have a time line based our experience. phil, i start with you. you heard those gunshots just after you had gone through the security checkpoint. you hit the deck. and then at one point, you raved realized the shooter is coming up the escalator behind you.

>> as far as the first shots went off, i heard the gunman yelling for tsa employee. so he, right then and there, i just assumed that he was a disgruntled employee. so i hit the deck and i just tried to stay as low and as small as possible and i glanced up and, sure enough, that's when i got to see his shoes and the barrel of his assault rifle . so, at that moment, that's when i actually felt -- feared for my life, thinking that i may get shot right then and there.

>> phil, as you're making your way down and out, what was happening around you? what were all of the passengers in the terminal doing and was there any security that you noticed?

>> when the first shots went off, there was certainly mild chaos where everybody is just trying to take cover. but at that point when he was making his way up towards the security screening area, i -- i didn't hear a single thing and that is what made it so weird, because, you know, we were)?@e all in danger at that particular time.

>> at the other end of this, tom and michelle , you were in a gate down there and michelle you had fallen asleep waiting for your flight that was delayed at that point. when you see all of these people rush toward the last gate of the?y2 terminalfla to make their way outside, did you realize there had been gunshots fired?

>> i had no idea. i had just gone out and gotten a coffee and i was walking back to michelle to our terminal and then i looked back to see a sea of people running in our direction. and it was just sort of chaos and everybody looked very frightened.

>> michelle , you helped people get out to the tarmac, is that correct?

>> well, yes. we -- i woke up to chaos. everyone was running towards me and then at some point, things -- people started looking around and i think someone saw the door -- i don't know how the door to the tarmac was open and then a sea of people just to get out and there was a point where people started saying, there is babies, there is children. and then i think there was a slight pause in the crowd and sort of let the moms with the by the way, babies out and i was right behind them and sort of several peop + shielding them a little bit and making sure that they got out first.

>> so you get outside essentially to what seem like a safe place and out of the building and on the tarmac and tom you decide to come back at one point and get your bags and you saw the shooter?

>> yes. and the confusion, michelle had just woken up. we had just made it to the tarmac. we don't know what is going on. we don't know if it was just a scare or a drill or what not. so i went and picked up our bag and when i noticed the shooter was calmly walking around inside the terminal near the gates and my first glance, you know, i thought he may have been law enforcement . but then i looked again and i saw a slender white male wearing heavy, baggy clothes, and just casually carrying a rifle pointed down wards. i picked up my bags and ran out of there. that's when i realized there was a gunman inside the building.

>> you all thought pretty quickly and thankfully a lot of other people did as well. thanks for takingv4g sharing your stories with us.

>> thank you.

>> absolutely. thank you.

>> thanks again.