Daily Dispatches
Paul Ciancia
Associated Press/FBI
Paul Ciancia

LAX shooting suspect charged with murder

Crime

UPDATE: (Saturday, Nov. 2, 9:10 p.m.):

Federal prosecutors filed charges of first-degree murder and commission of violence at an international airport against Paul Ciancia. The charges could qualify him for the death penalty.

The FBI was still looking into his past, but said they had not found evidence of past crimes or any run-ins with Transportation Security Administration. They said he had never applied for a job with the TSA.

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Authorities believe someone dropped Ciancia off at the airport. Agents are reviewing surveillance tapes to piece together the exact sequence of events, he said.

“We are really going to draw a picture of who this person was, his background, his history. That will help us explain why he chose to do what he did,” FBI Special Agent in Charge David L. Bowdich said at a news conference Saturday. “At this point, I don’t have the answer on that.”

U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. spelled out a chilling chain of events inside LAX that began when Ciancia strode into Terminal 3, pulled a Smith & Wesson .223-caliber assault rifle out of his duffel bag and fired repeatedly at point-blank range at a TSA officer who was checking IDs and boarding passes at the base of an escalator leading to the main screening area.

After killing that officer, Ciancia fired on at least two other uniformed TSA employees and a civilian airline passenger, who were all wounded. Airport police eventually shot him as panicked passengers cowered in stores and restaurants.

Ciancia’s duffel bag contained a handwritten letter signed by Ciancia stating he’d “made the conscious decision to try to kill” multiple TSA employees and that he wanted to stir fear in them, said Bowdich.

The bag also had five magazines of ammunition.

Terminal 3, the area where the shooting happened, reopened Saturday. Passengers who had abandoned luggage to escape Friday’s gunfire were allowed to return to collect their bags.

UPDATE: (Saturday, Nov. 2, 10:50 a.m.): Authorities identified the gunman who shot his way past a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport as Paul Ciancia, 23, of Pennsville, N.J., who had a grudge against the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

One person was killed in the shooting, TSA officer Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39, who is the first officer in the agency's 12-year history to die in the line of duty.

Five other people were hurt, including two other TSA employees and the gunman, who was shot four times by airport police and remained hospitalized but there is still no word on his condition.

Airport police officers shot the gunman four times, including in the mouth and leg, during a shootout in front of a Burger King in the airport’s Terminal 3.

A law enforcement official said the gunman was dressed in fatigues and carried at least five full 30-round magazines of ammunition. In his bag he had a one-page, handwritten note that said he wanted to kill TSA employees and “pigs.”

The official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the note referred to how the gunman believed his constitutional rights were being violated by TSA searches and that he was upset at former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

UPDATE (6 P.M. EDT): Officials have identified the suspect in today's deadly shooting at Los Angeles International airport as a 23-year-old man who might have had a grudge against the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Investigators have so far declined to name the man they have in custody.

Witnesses reported the shooter walked through Terminal 3 asking people whether they worked for the TSA. If they said no, he moved on. Materials found in the bag in which he concealed the semi-automatic weapon he used to kill one TSA agent and wound at least two other people indicated he harbored anti-government sentiment and anger toward the TSA.

Investigators are looking for more clues as to what prompted the rampage, which began just after 9 a.m. PDT. Officials believe the man acted alone.

UPDATE (3:45 EDT): Law enforcement officials said this afternoon that the lone gunman who shot up a terminal at LAX this morning carried a semi-automatic rifle and was a ticketed passenger. Reports on the number of wounded vary, with media outlets citing three casualties, while the airport’s official Twitter feed reported seven injuries, with six people transported to local hospitals.

Los Angeles police Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger said the unidentified suspect, who was injured after an exchange of gunfire with officers, was in custody.

Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees in Washington, D.C., confirmed that a TSA officer was killed and said the union’s information comes from local officials in Los Angeles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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