A New Zealand man has been described as a hero, after cowering in a toilet cubicle while a gunman rampaged through Los Angeles Airport on Saturday.
Doug Norton’s quick thinking occurred moments after Paul Anthony Ciancia began to fire into a crowd at the airport, killing one man and wounding several other people.
Norton, a 33-year-old accountant, was on a trip to the United States to visit family. He was in Terminal Three preparing to board a plane bound for Chicago, when he heard the sound of gunfire.
“I knew immediately what was going on,” said Norton. “I ran towards the nearest toilets, yelling for people to get out of my way.”
Hours later police found Norton cowering in a locked toilet cubicle.
“We were doing a search of the terminal, and someone heard a whimpering noise from the toilets,” said Los Angeles police assistant commissioner Jeff Lenzos.
“Officers immediately realised that someone had locked himself in a cubicle. He wouldn’t come out, so we broke the door down.
“The gentleman was crouched in a corner with his trousers at his ankles, both crying and masturbating at the same time. I just don’t know how he managed to get himself off while in such a state of terror. He’s a genuine hero.”
But Mr Norton insists he is no hero.
“I just did what anyone else in my position would have done,” he said. “Ran screaming from the scene of a crime while pissing my pants, hid in a toilet cubicle, and then masturbated furiously.”
Police have reported a number of other instances of courage during the airport ordeal.
One exhausted passenger is reported to have heroically slept through the entire ordeal. And a woman is reported to have thrown her baby at the gunman in a heroic effort to slow him down, so that she and others could escape.
Meanwhile, the courage of the gunman, Paul Anthony Ciancia, is being praised. Ciancia refused to surrender to police and airport security, despite being heavily outnumbered, and had to be shot.
A number of other heroes are yet to be identified, and police say the task may take several weeks. They have asked the FBI and Homeland Security for additional resources to assist in their efforts.
Mr Ciancia remains in hospital under armed guard. His condition is described as heroic.