Brian Ludmer was about to board a flight at Los Angeles International Airport Friday morning, headed to Boston for a family wedding.
But the Lake Forest native now finds himself at a Los Angeles-area hospital, recovering from a gunshot wound in the leg sustained when a gunman opened fire inside a security checkpoint at the airport.
Ludmer, 29, a theater technical director at two high schools in suburban Los Angeles, was one of at least three people injured during Friday's shooting. A Transportation Security Administration officer was killed.
Tim Flaherty, a cousin of Ludmer, said Ludmer had two wounds and was in "OK condition" after coming out of surgery Friday afternoon.
"He was telling my family don't worry about coming (to Los Angeles)," Flaherty said. "Unfortunately half of our family is going to Boston and the other half is going to see him."
Ludmer's boss, Superintendent Dan Stepenosky of the Las Virgenes Unified School District in Calabasas, Calif., said Ludmer's mother and brother landed in Los Angeles Friday night and were on their way to the hospital.
School district officials were in contact with Ludmer's parents after the shooting.
"He's scared but as upbeat as a person can be," Stepenosky said Friday night. "The FBI met with him to assure him that he's safe and that the shooter is in custody."
Stepenosky said Ludmer was due to undergo multiple surgeries on Friday, but he believes the injuries were not life-threatening. He said he heard secondhand that doctors were initially concerned Ludmer might lose his leg but later became more confident he wouldn't because the gun shot was in his lower leg.
Ludmer has been technical director at The Performing Arts Education Centers at Calabasas and Agoura high schools for the past 18 months, handling everything from event management to lighting and sound for stage productions, Stepenosky said.
"This guy's a great, great guy," Stepenosky said. "He's magic with the kids. His heart and soul is with the kids. He's a kind and gentle soul."
Ludmer's Facebook page says he is a 2002 graduate of Lake Forest High School and a 2006 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
He said in an October 2012 interview with the Calabasas Courier student newspaper that he studied technical theater at the University of Illinois and then moved out to California to assume a position at California State University at Long Beach, where he worked in the theater department and taught stagecraft.
Stepenosky said he tried calling Ludmer on his cellphone but hasn't spoken to him yet. A school principal was able to visit with Ludmer at the hospital, he said.
The superintendent said he's hopeful Ludmer makes a quick recovery.
"I've run into him several times. He's amazing ... I can't even contemplate him not being part of the team," he said. "Not even having him for a short amount of time is difficult."