Johnson City Press Friday, December 19, 2014
News Regional & National

Update: Gunman kills TSA agent at LAX, injures 2 others

November 1st, 2013 3:00 pm by Associated Press

Update: Gunman kills TSA agent at LAX, injures 2 others

LOS ANGELES — A man carrying a bag with a hand-written note that said he "wanted to kill TSA" opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, killing a TSA officer and wounding at least three others, authorities said.

The gunman, wounded in a shootout with police, was taken into custody, authorities said. The Transportation Safety Administration officer was the first killed in the line of duty in the 12-year history of the agency, which was founded in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The attack sent terrified travelers running for cover and disrupted flights from coast to coast, authorities said.

A law enforcement official said the suspect, Paul Ciancia, 23, from Pennsville, N.J., was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing the hand-written note. The official was briefed at LAX on the investigation and requested anonymity because was he was not authorized to speak publicly.

A second law enforcement official confirmed the identity, also speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

Pennsville Chief Allen Cummings said 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 said the elder Ciancia asked him for help in locating Paul, according to Cummings.

The chief said he called Los Angeles police, which sent a patrol car to Ciancia's apartment. There, two roommates said they had seen him Thursday and that he was fine.

Cummings said he told Ciancia's father that because of the son's age, he couldn't take a missing persons report. He said Ciancia's father owns an auto body shop. He says they are a "good family" and that his department had no dealings with the younger Paul Ciancia.

Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said that around 9:20 a.m., the gunman pulled what he described as an "assault rifle" from a bag and began firing inside Terminal 3. He 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 the gunman and apprehended him; police believe he was the only shooter, Gannon said.

"As you can imagine, a large amount of chaos took place in this entire incident," he said.

As gunshots rang out, panicked fliers dropped to the ground. Those who had made it past security fled onto the tarmac or sought 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 occurred. He described it as a "Bam! Bam! Bam!" burst of gunfire.

Savant said the shots subsided and people bolted through the metal detectors and ran into the terminal, eventually making their way out to the tarmac.

"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.

As police searched for other shooters, they escorted travelers out of the airport. Aviation officials stopped flights destined LAX from taking off from other airports, causing delays across the country. Some flights also had to be diverted to other airports.

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.

The TSA officer shot at LAX airport was the first ever killed in the line of duty, union and TSA officials said. At least three other TSA officers were also injured, said J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

The officer who was killed was a behavioral detection officer, Cox said. Those officers are stationed throughout the airport looking for suspicious behavior, he said.

Ben Rosen was sitting at the Starbucks eating oatmeal when he heard gunfire erupt and people start running in all directions and others crouching on the ground. Rosen got on the ground and another passenger said: "Don't worry, we're safe."

Then, more gunshots erupted. He grabbed his phone and tried to lie as flat on the ground as he could.

Police showed up with their guns drawn, shouting, "This is not a drill! Hands up!"

Everyone put their hands up and then were led out of the airport terminal to the international terminal, Rosen said. As they were led out they saw broken glass from a window that looked like it'd been shot out. Rosen left his bag behind.

Six people were taken to the hospital, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. It's unclear whether the gunshot victims were among the group.

Previous version of the story:

LOS ANGELES — A man pulled a semi-automatic rifle from a bag and shot his way past a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, killing a TSA officer and wounding two other people in an attack that sent terrified travelers running for cover and disrupted flights from coast to coast, authorities said.

The gunman was wounded in a shootout with police and was taken into custody, said Los Angeles police Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger. A motive wasn't immediately clear. A Transportation Security Administration union official said the TSA officer was killed, citing local union officials.

A law enforcement official said the shooting suspect is Paul Ciancia, 23, from New Jersey. He was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing a hand-written note that said he "wanted to kill TSA and pigs," the official said, who was briefed at LAX on the investigation and requested anonymity because was he was not authorized to speak publicly.

A second law enforcement official confirmed the identity, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

The TSA issued a brief statement Friday afternoon indicating that at least one other TSA agent was wounded, adding that further information would come from the FBI and police.

As gunshots rang out in Terminal 3, panicked fliers dropped to the ground. Those who had made it past security fled onto the tarmac or sought 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 occurred. He described it as a "Bam! Bam! Bam!" burst of gunfire.

Savant said the shots subsided and people bolted through the metal detectors and ran into the terminal, eventually making their way out to the tarmac.

"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.

Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said that around 9:20 a.m., the gunman pulled what he described as an "assault rifle" from a bag and began firing inside Terminal 3. He 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 the gunman and apprehended him; police believe he was the only shooter, Gannon said. "As you can imagine, a large amount of chaos took place in this entire incident," he said.

Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees in Washington, confirmed Friday that a Transportation Security Administration officer was killed. Kauffman said the union's information comes from their local officials in Los Angeles.

As police searched for other shooters, they escorted travelers out of the airport. Aviation officials stopped flights destined for of the nation's busiest airports from taking off from other airports, causing delays across the country. Some flights also had to be diverted to other airports.

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.

Witness Brian Keech said he heard about a dozen gunshots from inside a security gate at the terminal.

Ben Rosen was sitting at the Starbucks in Terminal 3 eating oatmeal at about 9:20 a.m. when he heard gunfire erupt and people start running in all directions and others crouching on the ground. Rosen got on the ground and another passenger said: "Don't worry, we're safe."

Then, more gunshots erupted. He grabbed his phone and tried to lie as flat on the ground as he could. Police showed up with their guns drawn, shouting, "This is not a drill! Hands up!"

Everyone put their hands up and then were led out of the airport terminal to the international terminal, Rosen said. As they were led out they saw broken glass from a window that looked like it'd been shot out. Rosen left his bag behind.

Six people were taken to the hospital, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. It's unclear whether the gunshot victims were among the group.

———

Update: LOS ANGELES — A gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, killing a Transportation Security Administration employee and wounding two other people in an attack that frightened passengers and disrupted flights nationwide, officials said.

Los Angeles police Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger said the unidentified suspect, who was apparently injured following an exchange of gunfire with officers, was in custody.

Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees in Washington, confirmed Friday that a TSA officer was killed. Kauffman said the union's information comes from their local officials in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said the gunman pulled what he described as an "assault rifle" from a bag and began firing. "As you can imagine, a large amount of chaos took place in this entire incident," he said.

Some passengers who already had cleared security rushed onto the tarmac to evacuate, while others were locked down in airport restaurants and lounges. The airport was being swept for precautionary measures and the bomb unit was on scene.

Air traffic was affected nationwide as the FAA grounded flights that had not yet departed for LAX.

Witness Brian Keech said he heard "about a dozen gunshots" from inside a security gate at the terminal, which has been evacuated.

Ben Rosen was sitting at the Starbucks in Terminal 3 eating oatmeal at about 9:20 a.m. when he heard gunfire erupt and people start running in all directions and others crouching on the ground. Rosen got on the ground and another passenger said "don't worry we're safe."

Then more gunshots erupted. He grabbed his phone and tried to lie down as flat on the ground as he could. Police showed up with their guns drawn, shouting, "This is not a drill, hands up."

Everyone put their hands up and then were led out of the airport terminal to the international terminal, Rosen said.

As they were led out they saw broken glass from a window that looked like it'd been shot out. Rosen left his bag behind.

"It was scary I've never experienced anything like this before," he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said a "ground stop" was in affect for all flights heading to Los Angeles, meaning planes in any other airport in the country can't take off for the city, although some flights already in the air were allowed to land.

LAX air traffic controller Michael Foote said some flights were still being allowed to depart.

Foote said his colleagues in the control tower saw passengers spilling from the terminal onto the tarmac, "evacuating the building, getting out as fast as they could." Officers eventually corralled them.

Other travelers described a chaotic scene as airport security staff evacuated terminals, including onto to the tarmac. Hundreds of people remained gathered outside next to airplanes as authorities investigated what happened.

"People started saying there's a shooter, there's a shooter," said Natalie Morin, a senior at USC who was heading to San Francisco for a graduate school interview.

Emergency crews responded to a multi-patient incident, Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said. Terminal 3 is home to Virgin America and other airlines.


———

Update: LOS ANGELES — A gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire at the Los Angeles International Airport, killing a Transportation Security Administration employee and wounding two other people.

Tim Kauffman, a spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees in Washington, confirmed Friday that a TSA officer was killed.

He says the union's information comes from their local officials in Los Angeles.

The attack frightened passengers and disrupted flights nationwide.

Police said the unidentified suspect, who was apparently injured following an exchange of gunfire with officers, was in custody.

———

Update: The Associated Press reported that a suspect in custody following the Los Angeles International Airport shooting.

Authorities say a suspect is in custody after opening fire at the Los Angeles International Airport and injuring multiple people.

Los Angeles police Officer Norma Eisenman says officers responded to the incident Friday which occurred at 9:30 a.m. in terminal 3. Multiple people were hit by gunfire, she says but their condition is unknown.

She says the suspect exchanged fire with airport police and was taken into custody. The airport is being swept for precautionary measures and the bomb unit is on scene.

Airport staff evacuated travelers and flights were disrupted nationwide.

———

LOS ANGELES — Shots were fired Friday at Los Angeles International Airport, prompting authorities to evacuate a terminal and stop flights headed for the city from taking off from other airports.

Gunshots were reported at Terminal 3 just around 9:30 a.m., the FBI said.

There was no immediate word of any injuries, but television images showed two people being wheeled away by firefighters. Triage stations also were seen.

Witness Brian Keech told The Associated Press he heard "about a dozen gunshots" from inside a security gate at the terminal, which has been evacuated.

The Federal Aviation Administration said a "ground stop" was in affect for all flights heading to Los Angeles, meaning planes in any other airport in the country can't take off for the city.

Other travelers described a chaotic scene as airport security staff evacuated terminals and rushed them outside to the tarmac. Hundreds of people remained gathered outside next to airplanes as authorities investigated what happened.

"People started saying there's a shooter, there's a shooter," said Natalie Morin, a senior at USC who was heading to San Francisco for a graduate school interview.

Emergency crews responded to a multi-patient incident, Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

Terminal 3 is home to Virgin America and other airlines.


comments powered by Disqus