Suspect In LAX Shooting Charged With Murder

    The Wall Street Journal
    By The Wall Street Journal

    LOS ANGELES—Federal officials charged the 23-year-old suspect in Friday's shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport with two felony counts, including a murder charge that could carry the death penalty.

    Transportation Security Administration agents walk on the departures level Saturday at Los Angeles International Airport, a day after a shooting that killed one TSA worker and injured several others. Getty Images

    A Transportation Security Administration officer, 39-year-old Gerardo I. Hernandez, died from gunshot wounds in the attack.

    The suspected shooter, identified as Paul Anthony Ciancia, was charged with killing a federal employee, which could carry the death penalty. He was also charged with committing a violent act at an airport, which could carry a penalty of life in prison.

    According to the complaint filed Saturday, Mr. Ciancia pulled out a Smith & Wesson .223 caliber M & P -15 assault rifle and "fired multiple rounds at point-blank range" at Mr. Hernandez, who was stationed at a security checkpoint.

    Mr. Ciancia then moved up an escalator toward the screening area but "looked back at the wounded officer…who appeared to move and returned to shoot the wounded officer again," the complaint says.



    A photo of alleged shooter Paul Anthony Ciancia. FBI

    Mr. Ciancia continued shooting his way past security and through the terminal, investigators said, sending passengers diving to the ground for covering or fleeing the terminal. The incident temporarily grounded traffic at the busy airport, and slowed operations there for more than a day, affecting thousands of travelers around the world. The airport was expected to be back to normal operations by Saturday evening.

    Mr. Ciancia was wounded in a shootout with police and remains hospitalized and "unresponsive," federal investigators said.

    At least two other TSA agents sustained gunshot wounds, as well as one civilian.

    Mr. Ciancia "made a conscious decision to kill TSA officers," said David Bowditch, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Los Angeles, which is leading the investigation.

    According to the complaint, Mr. Ciancia carried a signed, handwritten note saying he wanted to kill TSA officers, that addressed TSA officers directly, saying, in part, that he wanted to "instill fear into your traitorous minds."

    The U.S. Attorney General will review the case and decide if the death penalty will be pursued. The same legal protocol was followed in the case against Jared Loughner, who shot former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and murdered a federal judge. Mr. Loughner, however, struck a deal with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty in exchange for life in prison.

    Federal investigators said they have videotape of some of the incident, but it is where Mr. Ciancia entered the airport. He was dropped off at the airport, but federal officials declined to say whether they know who dropped him off at LAX.

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