About 8:40 p.m. Sunday, officers responded to reports of "a man dressed in black with a sword, wearing a mask" in Terminal 7, according to a statement from the Los Angeles Airport Police Division.
"Believing the subject was armed with a sword, several Airport Police officers approached him with weapons drawn out of an abundance of caution," the news release said. The encounter was captured in a bystander's video that was widely shared on social media.
Before things got really crazy - a man in a Zorro costume with a plastic sword was arrested. pic.twitter.com/COdNEIb1pL— sam macon (@sayczars) August 29, 2016
The sword was determined to be made of plastic, and the man was released after being questioned, police said.
However, reports of an active shooter spread via word-of-mouth through the airport, prompting many passengers and employees to flee onto the airfield and into the roadways of the central terminal area.
Traveler Jake Szlenker, of Richmond, Virginia, recounted being in a restroom when suddenly several people ran in and said, "There's a shooter."
"Everyone was in huge panic. ... I saw there was a janitorial closet, so I went in there and just grabbed a broomstick," Szlenker said. "I didn't know what else to do."
An investigation revealed that no shots had been fired, according to authorities.
"These are difficult situations, because there were multiple reports of something that was very significant and potentially very dangerous," police division Assistant Chief Dave Maggard told reporters.
"I think our officers did an excellent job," Maggard added. "They followed their protocols and they worked hard to make sure that if there was a threat that they found it and addressed it. We didn't obviously find that tonight."
The incident came two weeks after a similar unconfirmed report of a gunman resulted in a panic Kennedy Airport in New York.
Authorities were investigating the possibility that the JFK Airport scare may have been sparked by a loud celebration over a victory by Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt.
On Monday morning, the aftermath of the LAX episode was still reverberating at that facility. As of 5 a.m., 281 flights were delayed, 27 were diverted and two were cancelled.