A gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire at the Los Angeles International Airport Friday morning, killing a Transportation Security Administration employee and wounding five people, including two other TSA employees.
Thirty-nine-year-old Gerardo Hernandez was killed, the first TSA officer to die in the line of duty in the 12-year history of the agency, which was founded in the aftermath of 9/11.
The airport's police chief said 23-year-old Paul Ciancia, wearing fatigues, pulled the rifle from a bag and began firing inside Terminal 3. Ciancia went to the security screening area and fired more shots before moving into the secure area of the terminal. He was shot four times in an exchange of gunfire with officers and is in custody.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that Ciancia had a hand-written note stating he "wanted to kill TSA and pigs." A source says the note talked about TSA searches being violations of his constitutional rights.
Pennsville, New Jersey Police Chief Allen Cummings says 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 says the elder Ciancia asked him for help in locating Paul. The chief says 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 says he told Ciancia's father that because of the son's age, he couldn't take a missing persons report. He says his department had no dealings with the younger Ciancia.
The wife of Douglas County Sheriff's Department Capt. Steve Glandt, Suzi Glandt, had landed at LAX to visit the couple's daughter minutes after the shooting. She told WOWT 6 News the pilot informed them of the incident. They were left to wait in the plane for some time.
"I think being a law enforcement spouse, you can't freak out about these kind of things or get mad. I know I'm in a safer place. I know I'm not close to where anything happened. I know they have us where they can keep us safe and keep track of us." Glandt and the other passengers were bused to another terminal and were waiting word about retrieving their luggage.
More than 1,500 flights have been affected by the shooting. Airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles says about 167,000 passengers have been impacted. Of those, 724 were scheduled arrivals with an estimated 67,850 passengers and 826 were departures with an estimated 99,200 passengers on board.
Terminal 3 remained closed Saturday as the investigation into the shooting continues. Flights are arriving and departing, but airlines are cautioning that passengers may experience delays and should check their flight status before heading to the airport.
In 2002, an Egyptian national opened fire at the El Al ticket counter at LAX, killing two Israelis before he was shot dead. Authorities ruled it a terrorist incident, even though the shooter was not tied to any known group.