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.
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.
Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said the gunman pulled what he described as an “assault rifle” from a bag as he approached a security checkpoint and began firing.
“As you can imagine, a large amount of chaos took place in this entire incident,” he said.
Some passengers who already had cleared security rushed onto the tarmac to evacuate, while others were locked down in airport restaurants and lounges. Law enforcement officials are sweeping the airport as a precautionary measure. and a bomb unit is on scene.
OUR EARLIER REPORT: A man with a gun fired shots at the Los Angeles International Airport around 9:30 a.m. PDT this morning, prompting authorities to evacuate terminals and ground planes. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a “ground stop,” halting all flights from other airports headed for the city. It’s unclear when flights will resume.
NBC Los Angeles reported one TSA agent and two others were injured in the incident. Initial reports indicated the gunman fired one shot at a security officer after approaching a document checker. Detective Gus Villanueva of the Los Angeles Police Department told NBCLA that police believe they have the gunman in custody.
Several news outlets are describing the gunman as a former or current TSA agent.
Witness Brian Keech told The Associated Press he heard “about a dozen gunshots” from inside a security gate at the terminal, which has been evacuated. Other travelers described a chaotic scene as airport security staff evacuated terminals and rushed them outside to the tarmac. Hundreds of people remained gathered outside next to airplanes as authorities tried to figure out what happened.
“People started saying there’s a shooter, there’s a shooter,” said Natalie Morin, a senior at the University of Southern California who was heading to San Francisco for a graduate school interview.
A White House official told The Los Angeles Times that President Barack Obama had been informed of the incident: “We will continue to stay in touch with our federal and local partners. The LAPD is leading the response and investigation. We urge citizens to listen to the authorities and follow directions from the first responders on site. The president will continue to receive briefings throughout the day.”
Terminal 3, which was evacuated, is home to Virgin America and other airlines.