LOS ANGELES — The suspect accused of opening fire inside the Los Angeles airport was determined to lash out at the Transportation Security Administration, saying in a note that he wanted to kill at least one TSA officer and didn’t care which one, authorities said Saturday.
It’s not clear why Paul Ciancia targeted the agency, but the note found in his duffel bag suggested the 23-year-old unemployed motorcycle mechanic was willing to kill almost any officer he could confront with his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
“Black, white, yellow, brown, I don’t discriminate,” the note read, according to a paraphrase by a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
The suspect’s screed also mentioned “fiat currency” and “NWO,” possible references to the New World Order, a conspiracy theory that foresees a totalitarian one-world government.
By all accounts, Ciancia was reserved and solitary. Former classmates barely remember him and even a recent roommate could say little about the young man who moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles less than two years ago.
Ciancia, who was shot four times by airport police, remained hospitalized Saturday. There was no word on his condition. He was wounded in the mouth and the leg, authorities said.
Ciancia’s father called police in New Jersey, worried about his son in L.A. The young man had sent texts to his family that suggested he might be in trouble, at one point even saying goodbye.
The call came too late. Ten minutes earlier, police said, he had walked into the airport, pulled the rifle from his bag and began firing at TSA officers. When the shooting stopped, one officer was dead and five other people were wounded, including two more TSA workers and the gunman himself.
When searched by police, Ciancia had five 30-round magazines, and the bag contained “hundreds of rounds in 20-round boxes,” the law enforcement official said.
Authorities identified the dead TSA officer as Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39, the first TSA official in the agency’s 12-year history to be killed in the line of duty.
Allen Cummings, police chief in Pennsville, a small blue-collar town near the Delaware River where Ciancia grew up, said Ciancia’s father – also named Paul – called him around midday Friday to tell him about texts his family had received from his son in Los Angeles.
The chief said he called Los Angeles police, who sent a patrol car to Ciancia’s apartment. By that time, shots were already breaking out at the airport.