LAX Shooting: Operations Return to Normal as Investigation Continues

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Operations at Los Angeles International Airport had returned to normal amid heightened security on Monday, three days after a gunman went on a shooting spree that left one TSA agent dead and six other people injured.


Airport operations had returned to normal on Monday amid heightened security. (Credit: KTLA)

Meanwhile, investigators continued their efforts to determine a motive for the rampage, described as the worst breach of airport security since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The suspect in the shooting, 23-year-old Paul Ciancia, was under heavy sedation and 24-hour guard at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he was listed as critical after being shot four times by airport police, officials said.

Ciancia’s condition was apparently unchanged since Saturday, when FBI Special Agent in Charge David Bowdich said: “At this point, he is unresponsive and we are unable to interview him today.”

The suspect was expected to be brought before a judge when his condition stabilizes, an FBI spokeswoman told KTLA, although she doubted that would happen on Monday.

Ciancia on Saturday was formally charged with two counts stemming from the incident: murder of a federal officer, and commission of violence at an international airport, according to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

He is believed to have been dropped off at LAX on Friday morning by a friend who was unaware of Ciancia’s intentions, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

Ciancia walked into Terminal 3 carrying a Smith & Wesson .223-caliber M&P15 assault rifle, 150 rounds of ammunition and a handwritten note outlining his hatred for both the Transportation Security Administration and former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, the FBI said.

The note allegedly stated that Ciancia, who described himself as a “pissed-off patriot,” had made a conscious decision to kill multiple TSA officers because he believed the agency violated his constitutional rights by conducting searches.

At a news conference on Saturday, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr., provided chilling details about how TSA Agent Gerardo I. Hernandez was killed.

Ciancia allegedly “fired multiple rounds, at point-blank range, at the TSA officer, severely wounding” him, Birotte said. He added, “The defendant is then alleged to have begun walking away from the wounded TSA officer, going up an escalator and then coming back down” to return and shoot Hernandez again.

Hernandez later succumbed to his wounds, making him the first TSA agent to die in the line of duty.

Two other TSA agents and one civilian suffered gunshot wounds that were not life-threatening, authorities said. Two other people suffered “evasion injuries” as they scrambled to avoid gunfire.

Hernandez, a three-year veteran of the TSA, emigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador in 1998 at the age of 15, relatives said. He and his wife had two children.

On Saturday evening, the landmark pylons at LAX were lighted in blue to memorialize Hernandez. A vigil in his honor was planned for Monday night at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa Del Rey.

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