The Times West Virginian

Headline News

November 2, 2013

Gunman kills TSA officer at LAX

First officer killed in line of duty in the 12-year history of the agency

LOS ANGELES — A man carrying a note that said he wanted to “kill TSA” pulled a semi-automatic rifle from a bag and shot his way past a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, killing one Transportation Security Administration officer and wounding two others, authorities said.

The gunman was wounded in a shootout with airport police and taken into custody, authorities said. His condition was not disclosed.

The attack at the nation’s third-busiest airport sent terrified travelers running for cover and disrupted more than 700 flights across the U.S., many of which were held on the ground at LAX or not allowed to take off for Los Angeles from other airports.

The slain security worker was the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the 12-year history of the agency, which was founded in the aftermath of 9/11.

The FBI and Los Angeles Airport Police identified the gunman as Paul Ciancia, 23, of Pennsville, N.J. He had apparently been living in Los Angeles.

A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly, said Ciancia was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing a handwritten note that said he wanted to kill TSA employees and “pigs.” The official said the rant refers to how Ciancia believed his constitutional rights were being violated by TSA searches and that he’s a “pissed-off patriot” upset at former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Ciancia had at least five full 30-round magazines on him, said the official, who was briefed at LAX on the investigation. The official said Ciancia was shot in the mouth and leg by two airport police officers.

Early Friday afternoon, Ciancia’s father in New Jersey had called authorities for help in finding his son after the young man sent one of his siblings a text message about committing suicide, Pennsville Police Chief Allen Cummings said.

The chief said he called Los Angeles police, which sent a patrol car to Ciancia’s apartment. There, two roommates said that they had seen him Thursday and that he was fine, according to Cummings.

Cummings said that the Ciancias — owners of an auto body shop — are a “good family” and that his department had had no dealings with the son.

The attack began around 9:20 a.m. when the gunman pulled an assault-style rifle from a bag and began firing inside Terminal 3, Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said. The terminal serves such airlines as Virgin America, AirTran, Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air and JetBlue.

The gunman then went to the security screening area, where he fired more shots and went into the secure area of the terminal, Gannon said. Officers exchanged fire with him and seized him, Gannon said.

As gunfire rang out, panicked travelers dropped to the ground. Those who had made it past security ran out of the terminal and onto the tarmac or took cover inside restaurants and lounges.

“We just hit the deck. Everybody in the line hit the floor and shots just continued,” said Xavier Savant, who was waiting in the security line where the shooting took place. He described it as a “Bam! Bam! Bam!” burst of gunfire.

Savant said people bolted through the metal detectors and ran into the terminal.

“My whole thing was to get away from him,” said Savant, an advertising creative director who was heading to New York with his family for a weekend trip.

Just a few weeks ago, airport police and the Los Angeles Police Department had jointly trained for a similar shooting scenario, according to Gannon, who said officers told him the drill was critical in preparing them for the real thing.

While Terminal 3 remained closed, much of the rest of the airport continued operating, though with some disruptions. Some LAX-bound flights that were already in the air were diverted to other airports.

The ripple effect across the country delayed 76,000 travelers, LAX officials said. Hundreds of stranded passengers streamed into nearby hotels, rolling bags behind them down roads absent of car traffic.

The officer who was killed was one of the behavioral detection officers that are stationed throughout the airport, looking for suspicious behavior, said J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Initially, Cox said at least three other TSA officers were wounded. Their conditions were not disclosed. Later in the day, the TSA said two other officers were injured.

The Los Angeles Fire Department revised its total number of victims taken to the hospital from six to five, saying one had been double counted. Those numbers included the gunman, the slain TSA officer and one person who broke their ankle.

Ben Rosen was sitting at the Starbucks eating oatmeal when he heard gunfire erupt and saw people running in all directions or crouching. He grabbed his phone and tried to lie as flat on the ground as he could.

Police showed up with guns drawn, shouting, “This is not a drill! Hands up!”

People put their hands up and then were led out of the terminal to the adjacent international terminal, Rosen said. As they were led out they saw broken glass from a window that looked as if it had been shot out. Rosen left his bag behind.

It was not the first shooting at LAX. On July 4, 2002, a limousine driver opened fire at the airport’s El Al ticket counter, killing an airline employee and a person who was dropping off a friend at the terminal. Police killed the man.

———

Associated Press writers Joan Lowy and Alicia Caldwell in Washington; Greg Risling, Christopher Weber, Alicia Chang, Alicia Rancilio, Gillian Flaccus and Michael R. Blood in Los Angeles; Josh Hoffner in Phoenix; and Michael Rubinkam in Pennsylvania contributed to this report.

 

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • U.S. outlines case against Russia on downed plane

    Video of a rocket launcher, one surface-to-air missile missing, leaving the likely launch site. Imagery showing the firing. Calls claiming credit for the strike. Recordings said to reveal a cover-up at the crash site.

    July 21, 2014

  • James Garner Obit.jpg 'Maverick' star James Garner, 86, dies in California

     Actor James Garner, whose whimsical style in the 1950s TV Western "Maverick" led to a stellar career in TV and films such as "The Rockford Files" and his Oscar-nominated "Murphy's Romance," has died, police said. He was 86.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Given life term, drug offender hopes for clemency

    From the very start, Scott Walker refused to believe he would die in prison.
    Arrested and jailed at 25, then sent to prison more than two years later, Walker couldn’t imagine spending his life behind bars for dealing drugs. He told himself this wasn’t the end, that someday he’d be released. But the years passed, his appeals failed and nothing changed.

    July 20, 2014

  • Teen’s death puts focus on caffeine powder dangers

    A few weeks before their prom king’s death, students at an Ohio high school had attended an assembly on narcotics that warned about the dangers of heroin and prescription painkillers.
    But it was one of the world’s most widely accepted drugs that killed Logan Stiner — a powdered form of caffeine so potent that as little as a single teaspoon can be fatal.

    July 20, 2014

  • Monitors try to secure Ukraine plane crash site

    International monitors moved gingerly Saturday through fields reeking of the decomposing corpses that fell from a Malaysian airliner shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, trying to secure the sprawling site in hopes that a credible investigation can be conducted.
    But before inspectors ever reach the scene, doubts arose about whether evidence was being compromised.

    July 20, 2014

  • Without radar, missile may not have identified jet

    If Ukrainian rebels shot down the Malaysian jetliner, killing 298 people, it may have been because they didn’t have the right systems in place to distinguish between military and civilian aircraft, experts said Saturday.
    American officials said Friday that they believe the Boeing 777 was brought down by an SA-11 missile fired from an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

    July 20, 2014

  • For Obama, foreign crises grow more challenging

    Surveying a dizzying array of international crises, President Barack Obama stated the obvious: “We live in a complex world and at a challenging time.”
    And then suddenly, only a day later, the world had grown much more troubling, the challenges even more confounding.

    July 20, 2014

  • U.S.: Can’t rule out Russian role in plane downing

    U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that the United States cannot rule out that Russia helped in the launch of the surface-to-air missile that shot down a Malaysia Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

    July 19, 2014

  • Clinton papers: Of Iraq, bin Laden and Supreme Court

    President Bill Clinton’s advisers carefully considered how to explain the president’s military action against Iraq in 1998 as the House was debating his impeachment, according to records from the Clinton White House that were released Friday. The documents also touch upon Osama bin Laden, consideration of military action in Haiti in 1994 and preparationsfor Supreme Court nomination hearings.

    July 19, 2014

  • Panel supports early release for 46K drug felons

    Tens of thousands of federal inmates serving time for drug crimes may be eligible for early release under a cost-cutting proposal adopted Friday that would dramatically reduce the nation’s prison population over time.

    July 19, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads