Seeking to stir fear in "traitorous minds," a man suspected of a shooting spree at Los Angeles airport allegedly set out to kill employees of the Transportation Security Administration in the attack that left one person dead and others wounded, authorities said.
At a news conference Saturday announcing charges against Paul Ciancia, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. spelled out a chilling chain of events at LAX that began when he strode into Terminal 3 Friday morning, pulled a Smith & Wesson .223-caliber assault rifle from his duffel bag and fired repeatedly at point-blank range at a TSA officer. The officer was checking IDs and boarding passes at the base of an escalator leading to the main screening area.
After shooting a TSA officer and going up an escalator, Ciancia turned back to see the officer move and returned to finish him off, according to surveillance video reviewed by investigators.
Investigators said Ciancia, an unemployed motorcycle mechanic, fired on at least two other uniformed TSA employees and an airline passenger, who were all wounded. Airport police eventually shot him as panicked passengers cowered in stores and restaurants.
Ciancia, 23, remained hospitalized Saturday after being hit four times and wounded in the mouth and leg. The FBI said he was unresponsive and they had not been able to interview him.
The duffel bag also contained a handwritten letter signed by Ciancia stating he'd "made the conscious decision to try to kill" multiple TSA employees and that he wanted to "instill fear in their traitorous minds" said FBI Agent in Charge David L. Bowdich.
Federal prosecutors filed charges of first-degree murder of a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport. The charges could qualify him for the death penalty.
The FBI was still looking into Ciancia's past, but investigators said they had not found evidence of previous crimes or any run-ins with the TSA. They said he had never applied for a job with the agency.
Authorities believe someone dropped Ciancia off at the airport. Agents were reviewing surveillance tapes to piece together the sequence of events.
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