One of the worldâ€™s busiest airports was thrown into chaos on Friday as a gunman opened fire with a high-powered rifle inside a terminal, killing a security agent and injuring several others.
The gunman, a U.S. citizen who appeared to be acting alone, pushed through the screening gates and ran into an area where passengers board flights, before law enforcement officers caught up with him in a food court, Patrick Gannon, chief of the Los Angeles Airport Police, said at a news conference.
The FBI has identified the shooting suspect as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia. According to law enforcement officials, Ciancia was apprehended on the scene after opening fire at an airport security checkpoint.
Ciancia entered LAX on Friday wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing a handwritten note that said he “wanted to kill TSA and pigs,” an official, who was briefed on the investigation and requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, shared the information.
The TSA officer killed in the attack has been identified as 39-year-old Gerardo I. Hernandez. TSA Administrator John Pistole said in a message to employees Friday evening that “no words can explain the horror that we experienced today.”
The FBI late on Friday could not provide a total number of people shot in the attack, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.. Paramedics took five people wounded at the scene of the shooting to area hospitals, Los Angeles Fire Department officials said. But they could not say if all of those people were wounded by gunfire, reports Reuters.
Ciancia had at least five full 30-round magazines with him, police said. He was shot in the mouth and leg by two airport police officers and taken into custody, authorities said. His condition was not disclosed. The FBI said had not yet interviewed Ciancia about the shooting because he was still hospitalized but expected to speak with him as soon as possible.
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.
Emmy-nominated actor Tim Daly, who appeared in The Sopranos, was in the Virgin first class lounge on the other side of a wall from the shooting.
â€śLess than a minute after the shots the LAPD burst into the lounge with weapons drawn to make sure there were no bad guys in the lounge,â€ť he said. â€śThat was pretty frightening.â€ť
The family of Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, told Pennsville, N.J. Police Chief Allen Cummings early Friday afternoon that Ciancia had mentioned taking his own life in a text message to his younger brother.
The elder Ciancia, the owner of an auto-body shop in southern New Jersey, asked for help in locating Paul, Cummings said. The chief called Los Angeles police, which sent a patrol car to Ciancia’s apartment. It wasn’t clear whether the police visited before or after the airport shooting, says the Huff Post.
The police chief declined to elaborate on the nature of the text message but said that family members told investigators they had no previous indications that Ciancia, who moved to California about 18 months ago, was troubled.