Man Who Killed TSA Officer at LAX in 2013 Pleads Guilty, Avoids Death Penalty

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Paul Ciancia, a 26-year-old man who shot and killed a Transportation Security Administration officer and wounded three others at Los Angeles International Airport in Nov. 2013, pleaded guilty to 11 charges on Tuesday and will avoid the death penalty.

He agreed to plead guilty in U.S. District Court last week and now faces a mandatory life term in prison.

Evidence against Ciancia, who was an unemployed motorcycle mechanic at the time of the Nov. 1 attack, included a note he wrote saying he was enraged with the airport security checks that U.S. passengers face, the Associated Press reported.

Security cameras spotted him stalking his victims with a semiautomatic rifle in Terminal 3 leading up to the attack.

Ciancia shot and killed TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez, who was a father of two.

He then went up to the main screening area and reloaded before shooting Officers Tony Grigsby in the ankle and James Speer in the shoulder, the AP reported. A teacher was also struck in the leg.

With a shaved head, glasses and a slight smirk, Ciancia looked at all the faces of in the audience in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom Tuesday, including his victims.

His family was also in the audience, and stared straight ahead during the hearing.

U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker called the Nov. 1 shooting “an absolutely senseless and horrific attack.”

Grigsby said he felt numb and didn’t know how to react when the shooting occurred.

“I didn't know either to get up and run away, or sit there. I had a lot of mixed emotions,” he said during a press conference after the hearing.

He was accompanied in the courtroom by his mother and sister, who are also TSA officers. They sat in uniform and fought back tears as they relived the memory of the shooting.

Despite not knowing Ciancia’s motives, Grigsby said he is now more motivated to protect travelers and his coworkers from another attack.

“The plea that he went through is helping me and my family get closure about the situation that happened at LAX,” Grigsby said.

Speer, who was left with a piece of shrapnel in his body, said he was satisfied with Ciancia pleading guilty.

“Unfortunately we can't bring Gerardo back, but this will probably be the next best thing,” he said.

Speer has since returned to work and he said he is now more alert, sensitive and thankful that the incident brought his family together, thanks to his wife who helped him through the process of healing.

Ciancia is scheduled to return to court on Nov. 7, when he will be sentenced.