agence french presse
Los Angeles, 3 November
The gunman who allegedly killed a security officer at Los Angeles airport carried a note saying he planned to murder “multiple” agents, officials said, announcing charges against him.
A prosecutor yesterday told how Paul Ciancia allegedly opened fire at “point blank range” on Gerardo Hernandez, the first Transportation Security Agency (TSA) agent killed since the TSA was created after 11 September, 2001.
The dead officer’s widow meanwhile said she was “truly devastated” by his death. “He was a joyful person, always smiling and took pride in his duty to the American public,” said Ana Hernandez.
Ciancia, who used a Smith and Wesson assault rifle and a large stock of ammo in the attack, faces a possible death penalty on charges of murdering a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport.
The gun rampage triggered chaos at LA international (LAX) airport Friday, disrupting over 1,500 flights. The airport only fully reopened yesterday, more than 24 hours later.
Describing how the shooting started, a prosecutor said Ciancia pulled a “.223-caliber M&P-15 assault rifle out of his bag and fired multiple rounds at point-blank range” at Hernandez, 39, shortly after 9 a.m. in LAX’s Terminal 3.
The shots injured the TSA officer but did not kill him. The 23-year-old gunman then went up to a nearby escalator, and came back down to “shoot the wounded officer again,” said US Attorney Andre Birotte.
Ciancia then proceeded further into the Terminal, shooting a further four people including two other TSA officers, before being detained after a gunfight with LAX police.
The alleged gunman, who remains in hospital and has not yet answered any questions from investigators, carried a note in his bag indicating that “he targeted especially TSA officer, for whom he felt “anger and malice.”
The handwritten note, found in a bag taken into the airport, showed that he “made a conscious decision to kill multiple TSA employees,” said David Bowdich, the head of the FBI’s LA office.
“In the note that was handwritten by the defendant, that was signed by the defendant, we found a statement where he made a conscious decision to kill multiple TSA employees,” said Bowdich.
“He addressed them at one point in the letter, and stated that he wanted to ‘instill fear into their traitorous minds’.”