LAX shooting survivor says he crawled for his life
LOS ANGELES – A teacher said Tuesday that he crawled to escape a gunman at Los Angeles International Airport and used a sweatshirt as a tourniquet after his leg was shattered during last week’s deadly shooting.
“I didn’t know what his intention was,” Brian Ludmer said from his hospital bed. “I only saw me and him. … I was in total panic.”
Ludmer, 29, said he was heading to his hometown of Chicago to attend a wedding when gunshots erupted Friday on a floor below him as he waited in a long, snaking line at a Terminal 3 security checkpoint.
“It was hard to know what was going on, where the shots were coming from,” he said.
Downstairs, Transportation Security Administration Officer Gerardo I. Hernandez was killed and the gunman was trying to shoot other TSA workers.
Ludmer recalled that he and other travelers pushed through metal detectors after hearing shots, scattering into the terminal and down ramps into bathrooms, shops and stores, even onto airplanes – anywhere to get away from the shooter.
As Ludmer ran, a bullet hit him in the calf.
“My leg collapsed. It just instantly wouldn’t support me,” he said. “Below the bullet wound my leg was just hanging.”
He looked back and saw the gunman alone in the terminal hallway. Ludmer collapsed against a wall and started crawling for his life on all fours. He found a shop, scrambled into a storage room and shut the door. He found a sweatshirt and tied it around his leg to reduce the bleeding.
Ludmer was terrified that he would pass out and bleed to death or the gunman would follow and finish him off.
Soon, however, he heard voices, dragged himself to the door and peeked out. A wave of relief swept over him when he realized police officers were clearing the terminal.
Two officers told him they would get him out safely – but not quite yet, because the gunman might still be on the loose. Ludmer said his leg was bleeding, and he needed a paramedic. The officers helped him into a wheelchair and dashed through the terminal.
“They got me out of there, even though it was at great risk to themselves,” he said. “They wheeled me out of there at a run.”
They didn’t know that airport police had actually shot and wounded the suspect, Paul Ciancia, within minutes of the attack.
Ludmer needs one more surgery but doctors expect him to make a full recovery.