LOS ANGELES – The gunman charged in the deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport lay bloodied and handcuffed on the floor of Terminal 3 after being gunned down by police, but he answered questions that helped authorities lock down the scene.
Paul Ciancia, 23, was hauled away moments later on a stretcher and later heavily sedated for medical reasons, but not before he told investigators he had acted alone when he opened fire in the terminal, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press on Sunday.
Ciancia, an unemployed motorcycle mechanic who recently moved to Los Angeles from Pennsville, N.J., also told police a friend had dropped him off at LAX on Friday just moments before he shot a Transportation Security Administration officer at point-blank range and wounded three other people, including two more TSA workers.
Officials do not believe that the friend knew of the shooter’s plans.
Ciancia was under 24-hour armed guard at the hospital Sunday after being shot four times, the official said. He was sedated for medical reasons, the official said, adding that one gunshot to the mouth blew a molar out of his jaw.
Ciancia is facing charges of murder of a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport. The charges could bring the death penalty.
In court documents and interviews, authorities spelled out a chilling chain of events, saying Ciancia walked into the airport, pulled a .223-caliber assault-style rifle from his duffel bag and fired repeatedly at 39-year-old TSA officer Gerardo I. Hernandez. He 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 through the security checkpoint before airport police shot him.
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 shooter’s duffel bag contained a handwritten letter signed by Ciancia stating he’d “made the conscious decision to try to kill” multiple TSA employees and that he wanted to “instill fear in their traitorous minds,” FBI Agent in Charge David L. Bowdich 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.
The other two TSA officers wounded in the attack have been released from the hospital. On Sunday, the TSA identified them as James Speer, 54, and Tony Grigsby, 36.
Brian Ludmer, a Calabasas High School teacher, remained in fair condition at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the leg.