Thursday, April 17, 2014
By Tami Abdollah And Geoff Mulvihill
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES – Federal prosecutors filed charges of murder and commission of violence at an international airport against the unemployed motorcycle mechanic suspected of carrying out the deadly shooting at the Los Angeles airport.
A Transportation Security Administration employee wears a black ribbon over his badge on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, in Los Angeles International Airport. A gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire at the airport on Friday, killing a Transportation Security Administration employee and wounding two other people in an attack that frightened passengers and disrupted flights nationwide.
The Associated Press
This June, 2013 photo released by the Hernandez family Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, shows Transportation Security Administration officer Gerardo Hernandez. Hernandez, 39, was shot to death and several others wounded by a gunman who went on a shooting rampage in Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport Friday
The Associated Press
If convicted, Paul Ciancia could get the death penalty. He was arrested Friday after authorities say he barged into a terminal, pulled an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle from his duffel bag and opened fire. The bullets killed a Transportation Security Administration officer and injuring four others before Ciancia was gunned down by airport police.
The killing was “believed to be a premeditated act of murder in the first-degree,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said in announcing the charges.
Authorities believe someone dropped Ciancia off at the airport, and agents are reviewing surveillance tapes and other evidence to piece together the sequence of events.
“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.
The suspect appeared determined to lash out at the TSA, saying in a note that he wanted to kill at least one TSA officer and didn’t care which one, authorities said.
It’s not clear why Ciancia targeted the agency, but the note found in his duffel bag suggested the unemployed motorcycle mechanic was willing to kill almost any officer he could confront.
“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.
Ciancia, who was shot four times by airport police, remained hospitalized Saturday, but there was no word on his condition. He was wounded in the mouth and the leg, authorities said.
Terminal 3, the area where the shooting happened, reopened Saturday afternoon. Passengers who had abandoned luggage to escape Friday’s gunfire were allowed to return to collect their bags.
“When challenged, Los Angeles is ready and knows how to respond. This is one tough town,” said City Councilman Mike Bonin, whose district includes the airport.
He praised airport police, saying they “saved untold lives” with a swift response that was “absolutely textbook.”
The TSA planned to review its security policies in the wake of the shooting. Administrator John Pistole did not say if that meant arming officers.
As airport operations returned to normal, a few more details trickled out about Ciancia, who by all accounts 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. A former classmate at Salesianum School in Wilmington, Del., said Ciancia was incredibly quiet.
“He kept to himself and ate lunch alone a lot,” David Hamilton told the Los Angeles Times. “I really don’t remember any one person who was close to him .... In four years, I never heard a word out of his mouth.”
On Friday, 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.
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