LOS ANGELES (AP) — The gunman accused of shooting employees and terrorizing travelers at Los Angeles International Airport accomplished two of his goals: kill a Transportation Security Administration officer and show how easy it is to get a gun into an airport.
Paul Ciancia's deadly rampage left investigators to piece together what motivated his hatred toward the agency formed to make air travel safer after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, but could ultimately lead to changes in the way airports are patrolled.
Ciancia was shot four times by airport police, including in the mouth, and remains heavily sedated and under 24-hour armed guard at the hospital, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Sunday. The official was not authorized to speak publicly on the case and requested anonymity.
The FBI said he had a handwritten letter, stating that he made the conscious decision to try to kill multiple TSA officers and "instill fear in your traitorous minds."
The unemployed motorcycle mechanic who recently moved to Los Angeles from the small, blue-collar town of Pennsville, N.J., had a friend drop him at LAX on Friday just moments before he pulled a .223-caliber assault rifle from his duffel bag and opened fire, killing one TSA officer and wounding three other people, including two more TSA workers.
Officials do not believe that the friend knew of the shooter's plans. Ciancia arrived at the airport in a black Hyundai and was not a ticketed passenger.
Ciancia is facing charges of murder of a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport. The charges could qualify him for the death penalty. It was not immediately clear when he would make a first court appearance given his medical condition.
In court documents and interviews, authorities spelled out a chilling chain of events, saying Ciancia walked into the airport's Terminal 3, pulled the assault rifle from his duffel bag and fired repeatedly at 39-year-old TSA officer Gerardo I. Hernandez. He went up an escalator, turned back to see Hernandez move and returned to shoot him again, according to surveillance video reviewed by investigators.
He then fired on two other uniformed TSA employees and an airline passenger, who all were wounded, as he moved methodically through the security checkpoint to the passenger gate area before airport police shot him as panicked travelers hid in stores and restaurants.
It wasn't clear why Ciancia targeted TSA officers, but what he left behind indicated he was willing to kill any of them that crossed his path, authorities revealed.
The letter in his duffel bag refers to how Ciancia believed his constitutional rights were being violated by TSA searches and that he's a "pissed-off patriot" upset at former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
"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 official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
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.
The letter also talked about "how easy it is to get a gun into the airport," the law enforcement official said.
When searched, the suspect had five 30-round magazines, and his bag contained hundreds more rounds in boxes.
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that Ciancia's actions show how difficult it is to protect travelers at a massive airport such as LAX.
The terminals are open and easily accessible to thousands of people who arrive at large sliding glass doors via a broad ring road that fronts the facility and is designed to move people along quickly.
"It's like a shopping mall outside the perimeter, it's almost like an open shopping mall," McCaul said.
TSA Administrator John Pistole said the agency will need to work with each airport's police agency "to see how we'll go about in providing the best possible security."
The FBI has served a search warrant on a Sun Valley residence where Ciancia lived, Ari Dekofsky, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Los Angeles field office, said Sunday. Agents are still interviewing people, she said.
Authorities believe the rifle used in the shooting was purchased in Los Angeles. Ciancia also had two additional handguns that he purchased in Los Angeles, but which weren't at the crime scene, a law enforcement official said. The official, who has been briefed on the investigation, was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
The purchases themselves appeared legal, although authorities were still tracing them, and it's unclear if the shooter used his own identification or someone else's, the official said.
"He didn't buy them on the street. He didn't buy them on the Internet," the official said. "He bought them from a licensed gun dealer — the rifle and the two handguns."
Hernandez, a three-year veteran of the TSA, moved to the U.S. from El Salvador at age 15, married his sweetheart, Ana, on Valentine's Day in 1998 and had two children.
The TSA said the other two officers wounded in the attack — James Speer, 54, and Tony Grigsby, 36 — were released from the hospital.
Brian Ludmer, a Calabasas High School teacher, remained in fair condition at Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center and will need surgery for a gunshot wound to the leg. Two other people suffered injuries trying to evade the gunman, but weren't shot.
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.
NEW YORK (AP) — The mother of a Connecticut woman who was shot to death by police after trying to breach a barrier at the White House said her daughter was suffering from post-partum depression.
Authorities said the woman set off a high-speed car chase that put the Capitol on lockdown Thursday and caused a fresh panic the city where a gunman killed 12 people two weeks ago.
Two law enforcement officials identified the driver as 34-year-old Miriam Carey, of Stamford, Conn. She was traveling with a 1-year-old girl who avoided serious injury and was taken into protective custody. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.
Carey's mother, Idella Carey, told ABC News Thursday night that her daughter began suffering from post-partum depression after giving birth to her daughter, Erica, last August.
"She had post-partum depression after having the baby" she said. She added, "A few months later, she got sick. She was depressed. ... She was hospitalized."
Idella Carey said her daughter had "no history of violence" and she didn't know why she was in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. She said she thought Carey was taking Erica to a doctor's appointment in Connecticut.
ABC News reported that Miriam Carey was a dental hygienist. Her boss, Dr. Steven Oken, described Carey as a person who was "always happy."
I would never in a million years believe that she would do something like this," he said. "It's the furthest thing from anything I would think she would do, especially with her child in the car. I am floored that it would be her."
The St. Louis County coroner is trying to determine if police shot an Affton man to death, or if he shot himself.
St. Louis County Police were called to a home in the 9800 block of Arv-Ellen about 7:30 Saturday night because of a man reportedly waving a gun around in his front yard and yelling for someone to call police.
Officers arrived to find 36 year old Shawn Spiros sitting on the front porch.
Police say they tried to talk with Spiros, but he pulled a gun from his waistband, raised it toward officers and then at his own head. Police spokesman Randy Vaughn says it appears that Spiros and an officer fired at the same time. It's yet not clear which shot killed Spiros. The coroner is expected to release a report on Monday.