Moments after gunfire broke out at the Los Angeles airport, Paul Ciancia's father called police in New Jersey, worried about his son in L.A. The young man had sent texts to his family that suggested he might be in trouble, at one point even saying goodbye.
The call came too late. Ten minutes earlier, police said, the 23-year-old unemployed motorcycle mechanic had walked into LAX, pulled an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle from his duffel bag and began firing at Transportation Security Administration officers. When the shooting stopped, one TSA officer was dead and five other people were wounded, including two more TSA workers and the gunman himself.
Ciancia's exact motives were not clear, but he had some kind of beef with the TSA: A note in his bag said he would be happy if he managed to kill just one TSA agent. "Black, white, yellow, brown, I don't discriminate," the note read, according to a paraphrase by a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. The screed also mentioned "fiat currency" and "NWO," possible references to the New World Order, a conspiracy theory that foresees a totalitarian one-world government.
By all accounts, Ciancia was reserved and solitary. Former classmates barely remember him and even a recent roommate could say little about the young man who moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles less than two years ago.
When police stopped him, Ciancia also had five 30-round magazines, and the bag contained "hundreds of rounds in 20-round boxes," the official said.
Authorities identified the dead TSA agent as Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39, who became the first TSA official in the agency's 12-year history to be killed in the line of duty.
Ciancia, who was shot four times by police, remained hospitalized Saturday, but there was no word on his condition. He was wounded in the mouth and the leg, authorities said.
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