Roommate Dropped Off Alleged LAX Gunman: TSA

A gunman was believed to have been dropped off at LAX before going on a shooting rampage on Friday, officials said

By Jason Kandel
|  Monday, Nov 4, 2013  |  Updated 3:58 PM EDT
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Shooting at LAX

FBI

The FBI released this California driver's license photo of Paul Anthony Ciancia, a 23-year-old New Jersey native living in Los Angeles who is accused of opening fire in Los Angeles International Airport on Nov. 1, 2013, killing a TSA agent and wounding others.

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The 23-year-old gunman facing a murder charge in a deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport told authorities, as he was arrested, that he acted alone and had been dropped off at the airport by a roommate, a source confirmed to NBC4 on Sunday.

Full Coverage: LAX Shooting

Paul Anthony Ciancia is accused of entering Tom Bradley Terminal 3 on Friday and using an assault rifle to shoot and kill a TSA officer and wound four others before he was shot and wounded by LAX police.

The identity of the roommate who had unwittingly dropped the alleged gunman off at the airport was not revealed.

Ciancia was heavily sedated on Sunday and being watched by an armed guard at a hospital, the Associated Press reported, citing an anonymous law enforcement source briefed on the investigation.

Sources told NBC4 that he was shot in the face numerous times and had significant wounds to his jaw, mouth and tongue. He had not spoken to police as of Sunday afternoon.

Prosecutors said Ciancia could face the death penalty.

The rampage began after 9:20 a.m. Friday when the suspect entered the airport with a Smith & Wesson M&P-15 assault rifle and up to 100 rounds of ammo, according to a federal criminal complaint. He took the rifle out of his bag and fired multiple rounds at point-blank range at a TSA officer who was on duty and in uniform, wounding the officer, officials said.

The suspect walked up an escalator, looked back at the officer, and returned to shoot the TSA agent again, mortally wounding him, the complaint said.

“His intention was very, very clear,” FBI special agent in charge, David Bowdich said. “He indicated his anger and his malice, I would say, to TSA officers.”

He allegedly carried five loaded magazines into the terminal and had a signed, handwritten note, saying he wanted to instill fear into the “traitorous minds” of TSA officers, Bowditch said. 

The note found in the suspect's duffel bag talked about killing TSA agents and mentioned how easy it is to get a gun, agents said.

The first TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty, officer Gerardo I. Hernandez of Porter Ranch was working in the pre-screening area, the first line of defense on the upper level ticketing hall.

In addition to a charge of murder of a federal official, Ciancia, 23, will be charged with commission of violence at an American airport.

Under federal law and policy, Justice Department officials in Washington will evaluate the case to determine which of two penalties they will ask for Ciancia: life in prison with no possibility of parole, or death.

The FBI announced it was using crowdsourcing to properly understand and document Friday's sequence of events.

The agency has requested anyone at the airport who shot images or made recordings to upload them here. Information can also be submitted by phone through a tip line: 888-226- 8443.

As Terminal 3 reopened midday Saturday, there was high police visibility. At ticket counters and in the garage on World Way, passengers and others were picked up abandoned suitcases, laptops, purses and parked cars.

LAX's other eight terminals reported normal operations, “just very, very busy,” said the airport's executive director, Gina Marie Lindsey.

One victim, a man, remained in critical condition. Another victim, Brian Ludmer, a teacher at Calabasas High School, remains in fair condition but faces at least one additional surgery for a fractured leg, along with extensive physical therapy, according to Mark Wheeler, Senior Media Relations Rep at UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations.

He was waiting for a flight when he was shot in the leg and then dragged himself to a closet, where he hid until he heard a police officer outside the door.

Another patient was believed to have been taken to Marina del Rey Hospital. A third shooting victim was treated at released Friday afternoon, said Wheeler.

TSA security agents at LAX and nationwide began wearing black mourning bands Friday in honor of Hernandez, the first TSA agent to die in the line of duty in the agency's 12 years of existence.

Officials said Hernandez was working as a pre-screening officer, contradicting reports from a union official in Washington Friday that the agent was working as a behavior detection officer in the ticket hall.

The iconic, oscillating-color 100 foot-high glass pylons at the LAX entrance will stay blue through Sunday to honor Hernandez.

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