Shock Persists; N.J. Man Held In Hospital After Shooting Rampage At LAX
LOS ANGELES (CBSNewYork) — New details were revealed Saturday morning about the accused gunman in the deadly attack at Los Angeles International Airport.
As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, police said Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, of Pennsville, N.J., was the man who opened fire at LAX Terminal 3 Friday morning, fatally shooting a Transportation Security Administration agent and wounding two others.
The terminal remained closed until Saturday afternoon.
Ciancia was seen bloodied and handcuffed to a stretcher after the shooting rampage.
On Saturday, Federal prosecutors filed murder charges against Ciancia.
The sound of gunfire sent passengers scrambling for cover, which some huddling together in bathroom stalls.
“Right when I heard the shots, I looked over my shoulder and everybody was running toward me saying ‘run, run,’” said witness Joseph James.
“I didn’t see his face, I just saw the gun,” another passenger said. “I was terrified like everybody else.”
Meanwhile, police said Ciancia sent a suicidal message to his family earlier Friday. He then armed himself with a semiautomatic weapon and more than 150 rounds of ammunition.
The deadly rampage was allegedly fueled by a grudge against the Transportation Security Administration and police. He allegedly carried a note saying he planned to “kill TSA” and “pigs”.
A law enforcement official in the note, Ciancia identified himself as a “pissed-off patriot,” and said he was upset at former U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. He said he thought his constitutional rights had been violated by TSA searches.
The note and gunman’s rifle each had an orange TSA inspection sticker on them, authorities said.
Investigators said Ciancia was on a mission to kill, dressed in fatigues and carrying a bag full of ammunition and notes saying he wanted to gun down law enforcement officers. His attempt to do so came at the height of rush hour at one of the nation’s busiest airports.
“He saw me. He had his gun,” said Leon Saryan. “He looked at me and said, ‘TSA?’ I just shook my head and he kept going.”
Before he was finished, police said Ciancia managed to kill TSA Officer Gerargo Hernandez, 39 – the first ever TSA officer to die in the line of duty.
Hernandez, a father of two, would have turned 40 next week.
“I am truly devestated and we are all heartbroken,” widow Ana Hernandez said.
Five others were also wounded – including Ciancia himself, who went down and dropped his weapon when officers fired at him.
Among the others wounded was Brian Ludmer, a theatrical technical director at the Las Virgenes Unified School District in Calabasas, Calif.
Ludmer’s family told the superintendent that the young man is recovering from surgeries at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and was expected to pull through.
Ciancia was shot four times in the mouth and leg and was listed in stable condition on arrival at the hospital, CBS 2′s Lou Young reported. He reportedly was being treated at the same hospital as Ludmer.
Traffic at the airport was brought to a halt as passengers ran for safety.
“Someone let us into a supply closet,” said witness Dana Starfield. “There were about five or six other people there, and the Virgin representatives locked us in the supply closet, and we put a copy machine in front of the door, and we heard a few more booms.”
Officials said Friday evening that the shooting could have turned out much worse.
“There were more than 100 more rounds that could have literally killed everybody in that terminal today,” LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
In Pennsville, N.J., the shooting left many shocked, Todd Quinones of KYW-TV, CBS 3 Philadelphia reported.
Ciancia’s Family May Have Been Concerned About His State Of Mind
Pennsville Chief Allen Cummings says Paul Ciancia’s father called him early Friday afternoon saying another of his children had received a text message from the suspect “in reference to him taking his own life.”
Cummings says the elder Ciancia asked him for help in locating Paul, according to Cummings. The chief says he called Los Angeles police, which sent a patrol car to Ciancia’s apartment.
Cummings said he told Ciancia’s father that because of the son’s age, he couldn’t take a missing persons report. He says his department had no dealings with the younger Paul Ciancia.
Cummings and neighbors described the Ciancias as a good, nice family.
“They’re upset. I mean, this is a shock to them, it’s a shock to our community. At this point right now, this is the FBI in California and the FBI here in New Jersey; they’re working together as a team,” Cummings told reporters Friday night.
An obviously startled family friend ran down the driveway Friday evening to speak with Ciancia’s family. A few minutes later he left without talking to reporters.
But neighbors in Pennsville describe the 23-year-old as being nice and friendly.
Hours later, they were struggling to understand what happened.
“Even right now I’m still trying to process — did this really happen? Did they get the wrong guy? Because if they told me they got the wrong guy, it would make a lot more sense to me,” Josh Pagan said.
“I was just mind-boggled. I just couldn’t comprehend that. It’s just impossible,” Gary Harkins said.
Los Angeles Police officers said that they spoke with Ciancia’s roommates who indicated that he was okay.
Family friends said that Paul had been working at a Pennsville auto repair shop before leaving the area.
“He basically left for a year-and-a-half, went out there. His father doesn’t even know what he went out there to get a job to do. He was a motorcycle guy. He worked on motorcycles. Nobody knows if he got a job,” Pennsville Police Chief Allen Cummings said.
A former classmate described the suspected shooter as quiet.
“I remember he was in a few of my classes. I can’t remember him ever actually saying much,” David Robertson said.
In response to the incident, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey released the following statement Friday:
“The Port Authority Police has increased patrols at the agency’s airports and checkpoints in the wake of this afternoon’s shooting at a TSA checkpoint at LAX Airport. Safety and security of our facilities and the millions of people we serve daily are always of the utmost concern and our police and staff remain vigilant against any possible threats. Our stepped up patrols will not impact flight operations, however, passengers should check with their individual carriers for any delays that may be a result of the grounded activity at LAX.”
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