Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

    August 6, 1974
    Explosion at LAX

4 killed in LAX bombing

LOS ANGELES (UPI) --The explosion of a bomb ripped like a "blast of wind" through the lobby of an overseas airlines ticketing area at Los Angeles International Airport today, killing some bystanders and injuring at least a score of others.
    Los Angeles county coroner's office said four persons were killed.
    The fire department said five persons were critically injured, nine others were taken to Centinela Valley Hospital with minor injuries and another nine were treated at the scent. Several others were injured but refused treatment.
    A spokesman for the airline said the explosion occurred at 8:10 a.m. pdt and was set off in a public coin operated locker between the Pan American checkin counter and the Korean Airlines counter.
    A fire department paramedic said the fatal victims were right in front of the blast.
    "They were burned and blown apart," he said.
    John Semanik, 57, of Rancho Palos Verdes, had just arrived at the curb in front of the building moments before the explosion.
    He described the blast as "a heavy blast of wind."  He suffered minor injuries.
    His wife, who had already entered the building, escaped injury but said it was "like being in a wind tunnel with air whooshing all about.
    "I saw several people tumble and fall to the floor."
    The explosion occurred near the area where passengers leave the lobby to walk down a tunnel to the plane embarkation area.

Source: POST ADVOCATE, Alhambra, Calif., August 6, 1974


Experts say L. A. terminal bomb 
most destructive used at airport

LOS ANGELES (UPI)--The Los Angeles International Airport was blasted Tuesday by the most destructive bomb ever to hit a U.S. air terminal -- hurling bodies, baggage, spears of glass and chunks of concrete through a passenger waiting area.
    It was still a mystery today who planted the bomb, and why.
    Two skycaps died, blown apart with such force that the first investigators on the scene thought there were four or five dead, and 36 others were injured, mostly passengers waiting to board flights for Hawaii and the Orient.
    Seventeen were hospitalized one in critical condition and two in serious condition.
    Michael Strong of the police airport detail said he was about 100 yards away when "a tremendous blast shook the area and it was a scene of utter devastation.  People were down on the floor crying for help.  Bodies were blown all over the lobby."
    "All I could see was blood.  There was blood everywhere," said skycap Gary Cartwright.
    Police and federal agents tried to determine the origin of the blast.  Investigators said the force indicated an explosive charge equal to about eight pounds of dynamite.
   Airport General Manage Clifton Moore said it was the most destructive bomb ever detonated at an American aid terminal.
    About 300 persons were in the area when the bomb went off in a section of the overseas terminal about 20 feet from the Pan American World Airways check-in counter.
    Investigators believed the bomb was left in one of the coin operated public lockers there-perhaps by someone who intended eventually to carry it aboard a plane--but a witness said he saw the explosion come from a cardboard box on the floor next to the gift shop.
    John Van Den Heever, 26, told reporters he was sanding 25 feet from the box and saw it erupt.
    His girlfriend, Ruth Converse, 17, was among the injured.  She was holding a friend, Angela Thompson, 11, on her lap and the younger girl was blown to the floor.
    The blast tore out sections of the concrete wall behind the lockers, hurled some of the lockers through the lobby, ripped into the ceiling shredded baggage and blew out the glass from of the terminal.
    "Right afterward, the whole terminal was silent.  Then a few minutes later, people started screaming and looking for their friends," said passenger Barbara McLock.
    The dead were identified as Harper Glass, 64, of Inglewood, Calif., and Leonard Hsu, 46,of Lomita, Calif.
    Glass, who was carrying luggage for a small traveling circus on its way to Honolulu, and Hsu were right in front of the explosion " and blown apart," a Fire Department paramedic said.
    The Rev. Patrick Shaughnessy, pastor of the Evangelical Northwest Missionary Church in Phoenix, on his way to a month-long preaching tour in Korea, was critically injured.  Both his legs were badly mangled.
    William Sullivan, head of the Los Angeles FBI office, said whoever left the bomb there "may have wanted to take it on a plane.  At this point in the terminal, you are not required to go through security yet, and he probably placed it here because he couldn't go out to the airplane with it."

UPI Telephoto

An explosives investigator from the U.S. Treasury Department walks through the badly damaged lobby of the Pan American Airlines terminal where a bomb exploded.


Source: POST ADVOCATE, Alhambra, Calif., August 7,1974

T Is for Terror

A mad bomber who stalked Los Angeles in the 70s could be the poster boy for the kind of terrorist the FBI fears today

Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 1:58 a.m. PT July 9, 2003


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