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Chef Vernon Cardenas said when he saw a man with dirty blond hair dressed in navy blue clothes and wandering through a traumatized airport he knew immediately he was the LAX shooter.
"He wasn't running around with a sense of urgency like a police officer would be," said Cardenas.
While waiting for his flight to Philadelphia, Cardenas said he heard the shots – “couple of pops” followed by a stampede of people toward his end of Terminal Three at Los Angeles International.
While someone kicked out the exit door and the mob fled to the tarmac, Cardenas stayed behind at the gate area at the circular end of the terminal.
He kept an eye on his bag. It was Cardenas and one other passenger.
"That's when I saw him walking in the middle of like the center part of the terminal," said Cardenas of the suspect.
"At first I didn't see a rifle. I saw him holding something but right when I first saw him, he walked behind like some kind of advertising billboard in the middle of the room, and then when he walked out from behind it, that's when I saw the rifle," he said.
"He was dressed in like navy blue dark clothing. Almost looked like he was an employee of the airport," said Cardenas. "He was a tall white guy, like dirty blond hair but more darker."
The shooter was 50 to 75 yards away Cardenas and said he looked "between 21 and 28.”
"I didn't feel I was in immediate danger because he wasn't pointing the gun, he was just walking around sort of dazed," said Cardenas.
"He was just roaming around. If he was like looking to kill, as soon as he looked in our direction he would have raised the gun and it didn't look like he raised the gun," said Cardenas.
Once the shooter looked in his direction, that's when Cardenas left the terminal, joining others on the tarmac outside.
"I didn't want to stick around after that," he said.
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The Lead with Jake Tapper draws not only on Tapper’s deep knowledge of politics and national issues, but also seeks to examine and advance stories across a wide range of topics that demonstrate his own curiosities and interests. Compelling headlines come from around the country and the globe, from politics to money, sports to popular culture, based on news drivers of the day.
The Lead with Jake Tapper airs weekdays at 4 p.m. ET.
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