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LAX shooting: Rumor control—Sorting fact from fiction after Friday's tragedy

Passengers wait at Terminal 1 after the LAX shooting on Nov. 1, 2013.
Passengers wait at Terminal 1 after the LAX shooting on Nov. 1, 2013.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

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News of Friday's terrifying and chaotic shooting at Los Angeles Airport broke rapidly and widely across mainstream media, on the Internet and through social media channels. As in all such fluid situations, misinformation mixed with verified details, and many erroneous or unconfirmed accounts were spread regarding the incident.

 Here are the latest developments as of Monday. Below, KPCC deconstructs some of the biggest rumors and speculation, and tries to find the truth behind them.

1) The rumor: Ex-NSA chief Michael Hayden was killed at LAX, and a radical Christian group claimed responsibility.

Perpetuated by: Canada’s Globe and Mail, which falsely published the rumor based on a fake LAPD report, which they attributed to Reuters and the Associated Press. Regarding the fake report, The Wrap points out that "neither the AP nor Reuters included this in their versions of the story, though it was attributed to the agencies in the byline."

In reality: This was a hoax. He was not killed. The rumor was started by a fraudulent "Breaking News" Twitter account with one tweet. Gawker was quick to report the hoax and media bite, and took screenshots of the story and tweets that have since been wiped or updated.

2) Double rumor: Shooter was a TSA employee, and had been killed.

Perpetuated by:  A tweet from the L.A. Times citing unnamed sources indicated both rumors. An NBC News video repeating that the gunman has been killed is still online as of Monday morning.

In reality: The suspected shooter was not fatally shot at the airport, and he did not work for the TSA. He was identified by the FBI as Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, who moved to Los Angeles about a year ago from Pennsville, N.J.


3) Triple rumor: Shooter was dressed in blue and blending with security, might have been wearing a protective vest, and had two guns.

Perpetuated by: Eyewitness accounts and an interview with ABC News that was quoted and repeated. (Including on KPCC, though our digital story tried to qualify his account.)

In reality: Shooter had one weapon. The FBI description in criminal complaint says the shooter had had five magazine clips of ammo for his Smith & Wesson .223 caliber M&P-15 assault rifle. It was unclear what the shooter was wearing.

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4) The rumor: Slain TSA Agent had recently transferred to Los Angeles from Montana.

Perpetuated by: The American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing TSA workers, identified the victim, Gerardo Hernandez, as a Behavior Detection Officer (BDO) who had recently relocated from Montana, reported CBS News and others.

In reality: KTLA reports that the union issued a correction on Sunday saying Hernandez was a Transportation Security Officer, not a BDO, and that he did not move to California from Montana. Hernandez, of Porter Ranch, is seen on video being shot "multiple times and at point blank range" according to FBI special agent David Bowdich. The shooter went up a short escalator and then walked back down to again shoot Hernandez, he says.

Have you heard any rumors about the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport? Share them with us and we'll try to get to the bottom of them. You can post a comment below, tweet us @KPCC or post on our Facebook page.