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Gunman kills TSA agent at LAX, injures 2 others

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:37 p.m. HST, Nov 01, 2013

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 today, 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 this 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.

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allie wrote:
on November 1,2013 | 08:11AM
64hoo wrote:
crazy west coast side.
on November 1,2013 | 05:27PM
cojef wrote:
Shootings are becoming everyday occurrences around all the large metropolitan cities of our Nation. Something is wrong with our society when the taking the life of another is callously acknowledged as part of life in the big city. How did we get there? Has our sense of morality diminished to point to indifference, "ainokea" as long as it doesn't affect me or my family? Ponder if successive generations' insensitivity contributes to this phenomenon.
on November 1,2013 | 08:22AM
Mythman wrote:
The story says this was suicide by cop.
on November 1,2013 | 01:06PM
aomohoa wrote:
I never get why nuts like this they can't just kill themselves. Coward or crazy!
on November 1,2013 | 03:11PM
eoe wrote:
"People started saying there's a shooter, there's a shooter." Of course there is. This is America.
on November 1,2013 | 08:38AM
allie wrote:
hides behind eoe
on November 1,2013 | 09:45AM
aomohoa wrote:
I truly don't get the point to your comment.
on November 1,2013 | 03:12PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Condolences to the victims.
on November 1,2013 | 09:35AM
nitpikker wrote:
police should shoot to kill not shoot to injure. in a case like this.
on November 1,2013 | 09:36AM
aomohoa wrote:
I think they do. They are just bad aim.
on November 1,2013 | 03:13PM
paradiddle wrote:
He was shot in the mouth, which is a head shot. They were definitely not shooting to injure. If he did indeed have a semi-automatic rifle and the cops had only hand guns, it would not have been easy to get close enough for any shot. Kudos to the cops for being able to stop him before more were shot.
on November 1,2013 | 04:07PM
WKAMA wrote:
The LA the airport area is a mess today. No traffic in or out of the airport area. People are stranded and have to walk down the blvd with no one to pick them up because the freeways around the airport are closed. What is really missing is a rail system to the airport. Having that people can get out of the airport area instead of being stranded. LA is so far behind in its transportation system. Lots of freeways but if a freeway is shut down no way to transport masses of people.
on November 1,2013 | 09:57AM
blkdrgn wrote:
If they shut down the freeway to the airport they would also shut down the rail system to the airport.
on November 1,2013 | 12:26PM
lwandcah wrote:
Just take a look around at the direction we are heading. Everything nowadays is about me. What I am being deprived of, how my rights are being violated or I am being discriminated against, how the other guy is getting more than me. The world we live in is getting more and more selfish, and less and less caring.
on November 1,2013 | 10:07AM
PokeStop wrote:
Exactly! Times have changed over the last 20 years, everything is about me, myself, and I. It's a vicious world we live in with no compassion for your fellow humans!
on November 1,2013 | 12:49PM
mayumi13 wrote:
on November 1,2013 | 02:19PM
salsacoquibx wrote:
TSA are going to want to carry guns now..time will tell
on November 1,2013 | 12:48PM
Mythman wrote:
Feeds into the government controlling us completely as we don't seem to be able to do it for ourselves any longer?
on November 1,2013 | 01:08PM
eoe wrote:
Honestly if you would turn off Fox and just go live your life you might notice this country is the tyranny you pretend it is.
on November 1,2013 | 01:15PM
TLehel wrote:
We live in tyranny. Will you all chose to be slaves of the government or will you stand for freedom?
on November 1,2013 | 03:33PM
control wrote:
yeah, the tyranny of so-called patriots with assault rifles.
on November 1,2013 | 07:08PM
mcc wrote:
Why are assault rifles legal to own? We need some gun control.
on November 1,2013 | 04:30PM
mikethenovice wrote:
And the Republicans will insist on protecting the right to bear arms as we see more innocent victims perish.
on November 1,2013 | 06:45PM
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