[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
December 18
1929 - Swift justice: Thomas Vernon sentenced to life in prison for Saugus train derailment & robbery 1 month earlier [story]

KirkStinsontarmac[KHTS] – The recent LAX shooting found Santa Clarita Valley resident Kirk Stinson inside of Terminal 3 and running for his life.

What should have been a joyous surprise for his sister’s 50th birthday quickly turned into horror and fear for Stinson, a Saugus resident, when the sound of gunfire erupted on Friday in Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport.

“At first it didn’t sound like a gun, it sounded like someone had dropped a broomstick, or something fell, then we heard what sounded like repeated gunshots,” said Stinson. “I stood up and said, ‘that’s gunshots, everybody get down, get down.’”

Stinson said he urged the people around him toward the nearest exit, an open doorway that took the fleeing passengers down the jetway ramp toward a waiting airplane.

“At the end of the ramp we had to wait for a gate agent to unlock the door so we could go down the stairs to the airport tarmac,” he said. “She was so panicked she forgot the code. She was saying, ‘I can’t remember the code, I can’t remember the code.’ We had to wait until another gate agent came and unlocked the door.”

Stinson sought refugee with others behind a pillar and waited.

“We were just looking for anything to hide behind, you didn’t know which direction the gunfire was coming from,” he said.

As the fleeing passengers waited for the door to be unlocked more and more passengers fled onto the jetway, some almost climbing atop the people already crowded into the small space.

“The terminal was fairly crowded so you had hundreds of people trying to get out of, maybe, four doors,” Stinson said. “Then there was a rush of blue shirts and TSA people also trying to get away from the gunman. People were panicked because we could hear the shooting.”

After Stinson and the others made it to the tarmac buses quickly arrived and took everyone to a holding area behind the Tom Bradley International Terminal.Kirk Stinson, wearing a red vest, stands on the tarmac outside of Terminal 3 after escaping from a gunman on Friday. Photo courtesy Kirk Stinson.

During the shooting incident TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez, 39, was killed and three other people were wounded when a gunman identified by police as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia opened fire at an LAX TSA checkpoint in Terminal 3. The incident shut down the airport for hours.

Stinson had caught an early ride to the airport with a friend who was on his way to Manhattan Beach. He arrived at LAX sometime around 6 a.m.

When Stinson heard the first shot he was preparing to catch a 10 a.m. Spirit Airlines flight to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for his sister’s surprise birthday party.

“Who knows where I would have been if I had not caught that early ride,” he said. “Instead of being as far into the terminal as I was, I might have been at the TSA checkpoint, or walking down the hallway, when the shooting started.”

Stinson, owner of Plumbing by Kirk, Inc. in Santa Clarita, said he was on the phone with his wife, Nicole, when the first shot rang out.

kirkstinson“I told Nicole, ‘I think I just heard gunshots,’” he said. “Then I knew for sure it was gunshots and in the chaos I lost my phone. I peeked out the doorway (of the jetway) and saw a guy running my way trying to seek cover and he kicked my phone toward me so I got my phone back.”

While his wife frantically tried to call him Stinson was busy trying to find a way out of the terminal.

“It wasn’t a good time for me to stop and talk on the phone,” he said. “By the time I got out on the tarmac she didn’t know if I had been shot, or what was happening.”

When Stinson knew he was safe he called his wife, who was relieved he was unharmed.

Stinson said he was in the holding area until 6 p.m. Snacks were the only food distributed, said Stinson.

“They had the packages of peanuts you get on the airplanes, but they didn’t have enough for everybody. They were gone in minutes,” he said. “If I hadn’t had an extra granola bar and a small bag of pretzels I would have been in trouble.”

Stinson said as the day wore on in the holding area the mood changed from “being thankful for being alive to, holy crap, there’s a thousand people in this room and only 25 outlets to charge our phones.”

After someone discovered USB ports in the back of the televisions above the counters Stinson said phones could be seen dangling over the desks hanging from charging cables.

“It became kind of humorous,” he said. “People would say, your 15 minutes are up, now it’s my turn to charge my phone. There were a couple of bickering fights.”

Stinson said as the hours progressed people became increasingly annoyed at the lack of information being conveyed to the waiting throngs and the long wait to leave the holding area, but most people coped well with the situation.

Kirk Stinson took this photo of himself outside a terminal at LAX to show some of the police response to the shooting at LAX. Photo courtesy Kirk Stinson.When Stinson was released he had hoped to catch a FlyAway bus to Van Nuys, but after waiting an hour he learned that all the roads in and out of the airport were still shuttered and no FlyAway buses were coming for several hours.

He walked away from LAX down Century Boulevard finding hotel after hotel completely booked. He finally found a room at a Motel 6, a mile from the airport.

“I didn’t want my family to try and come down and get me,” said Stinson. “I knew it would take them hours because the roads were still all closed.”

After Stinson’s wife put out an appeal on Facebook, Natasha Gagarin, who exercises at the same gym as Kirk Stinson, replied that she was on her way to pick up her car at LAX and could bring Kirk home.

Gagarin picked Stinson up at the Motel 6 and drove him back to the SCV.

“She came into the hotel and met me and said, ‘I’m so sorry you had to go through this,’” he said. “She was awesome, she was my angel.”

Stinson had met Gagarin only once, but he said they both cried all the way home.

It wasn’t until 9:30 p.m. that he returned to Saugus.

“It was very emotional,” he said. “I was very thankful that I was able to see my family that night.”

Stinson has two children, Peyton, 13 and Paige, 8.

“They met me at the car and I held on to my wife and kids for a good five minutes before we went inside,” he said.

The Stinsons have long believed in “giving back to the community.”

Nicole, a realtor, with Estate Realty Group, has worked on many fundraising activities for SCV nonprofits. She has also co-founded a charity cook-off to benefit several nonprofits and headed up efforts to provide holiday gifts for the unprivileged.

Kirk has donated his services to the “Gentleman for a Cause” fundraisers for Soroptimist International of SCV. He has also dressed up as Santa Claus to distribute gifts to underprivileged children in the SCV.

“I’m also going to help the SCV Youth Project,” he said.

The experience has had a profound effect on Stinson.

“When I was talking to Nicole on the phone, after I heard the shots, I told her, ‘You know, if anything happens, you know I love you, and tell the kids I love them.’ It was hard to fathom that I had to say those words,” he said.

Stinson said he no longer “sweats the small stuff.”

“This jarred something inside me and all I can think about now is spending more quality time with my family,” he said.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

1 Comment

  1. Wow…Kirk, I am so glad you are okay. Thank you for sharing what this was like for you. You are truly blessed. Love to you and Nicole and the children.

Leave a Comment

SCV NewsBreak
Sunday, Dec 17, 2017
Pre-City Leader Bobbie Trueblood Davis Dies at 93
A transformative epoch in Santa Clarita Valley history drew to an uncharacteristically quiet close Saturday with the death of Bobbie Trueblood Davis at age 93.
Friday, Dec 15, 2017
Weekend Fire Weather Watch Called for SCV
The National Weather Service has called a Fire Weather Watch for this weekend for Los Angeles and Ventura County mountains and valleys including the Santa Clarita Valley due to gusty northeast wind and low relative humidity.
Friday, Dec 15, 2017
Bicyclist Arrested for Warrant, Cocaine in Canyon Country
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies arrested a 21-year-old man who had an outstanding warrant and was allegedly in possession of cocaine in Canyon Country early Thursday.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1929 - Swift justice: Thomas Vernon sentenced to life in prison for Saugus train derailment & robbery 1 month earlier [story]
A transformative epoch in Santa Clarita Valley history drew to an uncharacteristically quiet close Saturday with the death of Bobbie Trueblood Davis at age 93.
Pre-City Leader Bobbie Trueblood Davis Dies at 93
"The final tax reform bill released punishes homeowners and weakens homeownership, and in fact, it looks at homeowners and the housing market as nothing more than a piggy bank," said C.A.R. President Steve White.
Realtors: Final GOP Tax Bill Punishes Homeowners
1925 - Jenks Harris robs Piru bank of $11,000 [story]
1902 - Hi Jolly (Hadji Ali), Gen. E.F. Beale's Syrian camel driver, dies at Quartzsite, Ariz. [story]
The National Weather Service has called a Fire Weather Watch for this weekend for Los Angeles and Ventura County mountains and valleys including the Santa Clarita Valley due to gusty northeast wind and low relative humidity.
Weekend Fire Weather Watch Called for SCV
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies arrested a 21-year-old man who had an outstanding warrant and was allegedly in possession of cocaine in Canyon Country early Thursday.
Bicyclist Arrested for Warrant, Cocaine in Canyon Country
Valencia-based Princess Cruises, voted the #1 international cruise line in Japan, announced its 2019 program featuring Japanese-built Diamond Princess returning for her sixth season, sailing roundtrip from Tokyo (Yokohama) and Kobe.
Princess Cruises Unveils 2019 Japan Cruise Program
Valencia-based Princess Cruises released its 2019 Canada and New England cruise schedule, featuring Regal Princess and Caribbean Princess on the line’s largest fall deployment and the opportunity to visit Greenland roundtrip from New York
Princess Cruises Sets Fall 2019 Cruises to Canada, New England
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department looks back at five years of work by its Domestic Highway Enforcement Team, which has disrupted the operations of the drug cartels by confiscating millions of dollars in illegal drugs and drug money.
Elite LASD Drug Enforcement Team Disrupts Cartel Operations
College of the Canyons quarterback Andrew Brito, wide receiver Desean Holmes and linebacker KJ Latu have been named to the 2017 Region III All-California Community College Football Team.
Brito, Holmes, Latu Represent Cougars on All-State Team
Tickets and sponsorships are now available for the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce's 2018 awards ceremony and installation of new officers at Tournament Players Club in Valencia on Friday night, January 26.
Jan. 26: SCV Chamber of Commerce 2018 Awards, Installation Gala
Sponsorships are now open for the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation's 2018 Economic Outlook Conference, set for Thursday, March 8, 2018 at a location to be announced shortly.
SCV 2018 Economic Outlook Conference Tickets, Sponsorships Open
SetPoint Medical, a Valencia-based biomedical company developing therapy for chronic inflammatory diseases, has received approval from the FDA to initiate a pilot trial in the U.S. for patients with drug-refractory rheumatoid arthritis.
FDA OK’s SetPoint Bioelectronic Therapy Study for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., representing the United States - and states and regions leading on climate across the globe - joined world leaders at the One Planet Summit Tuesday, the two-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement.
Brown in Paris: ‘We Can’t Wait for White House to Wake Up’
The regular Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 19 has been canceled, according to a notification from the city of Santa Clarita today.
City Cancels Dec. 19 Planning Commission Meeting
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, December 19, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Dec. 19: L.A. County Board of Supervisors Meeting
L.A. County's Bringing Our Loved Ones Home Task Force officials unveiled their final recommendations, endorsing a plan to use a voluntary system of trackable bracelets to find people prone to wandering, like those suffering from Alzheimer’s or autism.
County Task Force Calls for Tracking Bracelets to Locate Lost Individuals
The Community Development Commission of the county of Los Angeles looks back on 35 years of advancing its core program areas: affordable housing and housing, community and economic development.
County Community Development Commission Marks 35th Anniversary
Metro is seeking two new members to join the Measure M Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee.
Metro Seeks 2 New Measure M Oversight Committee Members
The California Air Resources Board approved a $663 million low-carbon transportation plan Thursday to increase the use of clean cars, heavy-duty trucks, buses and freight equipment.
Air Resources Board OK’s $663 Million for Clean Vehicles
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station has released its public safety and crime information report for Saugus (Zone 4) for December 4-10, 2017.
Crime Blotter: Shoplifting, Petty Theft in Saugus
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed his strong opposition to the Trump Administration’s illegal attempt to suspend the 2015 Clean Water Rule for two years.
California AG, 10 Others Oppose Feds’ Suspension of Clean Water Rule
Conservation groups on Friday lobbied a federal judge for permission to join a fight between the federal government and a ranching association over a trio of California amphibian species.
Conservationists Lobby to Join Fray Over Frog Habitat
1987 - Incorporation: Santa Clarita officially becomes a city [story]
With an offense that challenged the program’s single-season goals record, The Master’s University women’s soccer team was almost almost never out of any game it played: The Mustangs were always within striking range.
Lady Mustangs Within Range of Directors’ Cup Top Spots
When Ed Jackiewicz met Tera Trujillo in spring 2015, she was studying at a desk she’d carried to the corner of the California State University, Northridge soccer field, in a “time out” of sorts, unable to practice because she’d just earned a D in an economics class.
CSUN’s “Under Armour Faculty” Promotes Academic Success in Student-Athletes
When Rafael Munoz recalls his time at the Layer 8 Computer Security Club at California State University, Northridge, he feels proud and thankful.
CSUN’s Tech Education Makes Top 10 List
The city of Santa Clarita Arts and Events division is currently seeking proposals for solo exhibits for 2018 in the gallery space at The MAIN, the City’s newest arts venue in Old Town Newhall.
City Seeking Artists for 2018 Solo Exhibits
NORTHRIDGE, Calif.---CSUN Men's Basketball returns to the road for the final time in the non-conference season this weekend.
CSUN to Face-Off Against Formal Rival Eastern Washington
Here is a list of Santa Clarita arts-related events for Friday:
Dec. 15: Santa Clarita Arts Calendar
This Friday and Saturday (Dec. 15-16), The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance brings their annual Winter Dance Concert to the REDCAT stage.
Dec. 15, 16: Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance Concert at REDCAT
The William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board has approved naming Dr. Collyn Nielsen as Chief Administrative Officer and Jan Hayes-Rennels as Director of Special Programs and Staff Development.
Hart Appoints Nielsen, Hayes-Rennels to District Office Positions
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - The CSUN men's volleyball team was picked to finish third in the inaugural Big West Men's Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll announced Thursday.
Big West Pre-Season Coaches Poll Puts Matadors Volleyball at No. 3
A 44-year-old transient was arrested by SCV Sheriff's Station deputies Wednesday afternoon after he allegedly tried to pick up his 8-year-old niece from a school in Santa Clarita.
Suspect Arrested in Attempted Kidnapping
It was a night to honor exceptional mentors at California State University, Northridge, but the five recipients of the 2017 Don Dorsey Excellence in Mentoring Awards just wanted to talk about their students.
CSUN Pays Tribute to Mentors Who Have Made a Difference