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LAX shooting: Investigators probe motives of shooter


LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles International Airport terminal where a gunman opened fire on Friday morning, killing an unarmed federal airport security agent and wounding others, remained closed to airplane traffic the day after the shooting as authorities probed the motive behind the attack.

Authorities have identified the suspected shooter as Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, and they said he was shot and wounded by police in an exchange of gunfire at the airport’s busy Terminal 3.

The gunman shot at least two Transportation Security Administration employees, one fatally, said Special Agent David Bowdich of the FBI. The slain TSA agent, identified as Gerardo Hernandez, 39, was the first from the agency to die in the line of duty.

Los Angeles police officers would be wearing black mourning bands in honor of Hernandez, Chief Charlie Beck of Los Angeles Police Department said on Twitter.

The Los Angeles airport said on its Twitter feed that it had no timetable for when the FBI would complete its investigation. Passengers who had left luggage and other property behind as they ran to escape the gunfire are still not able to collect their belongings, but the airport says it hopes they will be allowed in soon.

„Stay tuned. Thanks for your patience,“ one post said.

Several airlines, including Virgin America and Spirit Airlines, warned of delays and cancellations, while another, Frontier Airlines, announced it would operate out of Terminal 2 on Saturday.

Late on Friday, FBI agents armed with a search warrant combed through Ciancia’s home in the Los Angeles area, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

The gunman had an assault rifle and touched off panic and chaos at one of the world’s busiest airports. Hundreds of travelers ran for safety or frantically dove for cover behind luggage, and loud alarms blared through the terminal.

Traveler Lauren Stephens, 47, said she had just put her luggage on the scale at the ticket counter in Terminal 3 when she heard a series of gunshots. „Somebody just yelled ‚Run‘ at the top of their lungs. … I just left my bag and I just ran like hell. Everybody ran.“

The gunman, a U.S. citizen who appeared to be acting alone, pushed through the screening gates and ran into an area where passengers were boarding 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 officers shot him at least once and took him into custody, he said.

Stephanie Rosemeyer, 26, of Naperville, was awaiting a flight to Chicago when she saw people running toward the exits. She stood up in search of the source of the commotion, she said, and found herself looking directly into the gunman’s eyes.

The man was dressed in black, Rosemeyer said, wearing what looked to her like a bulletproof vest and carrying a large firearm.

„We made eye contact,“ Rosemeyer said. „He just looked so, so angry.

„… He was just angry. You know that look that people get when they’re just beyond anything that they can handle.

„So I started trying to put my hands up to show him that I wasn’t armed.“

Rosemeyer said the gunman shouted profanities about the Transportation Security Administration, then fired at least five shots.

The FBI late on Friday could not provide a total number of people shot in the attack, 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.

Source: Reuters

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