Los Angeles Shooter May Face the Death Penalty
Federal prosecutors have charged Paul Ciancia, the suspect in Friday’s shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport, with murder and another charge, both of which could carry the death penalty, officials said Saturday, according to ABC News.
Ciancia, 23, shot a Transportation Security Administration officer, Gerardo I. Hernandez, at point-blank range, left the scene and then returned to shoot him again after Hernandez was seen moving on a surveillance video, leading to his death, the officials said.
Ciancia also is accused of shooting two other TSA employees and a civilian, and causing other injuries.
He reportedly wrote in a signed note he carried with him to the airport that he targeted TSA officials and "made the conscious decision to try to kill" because he wanted to "instill fear in your traitorous minds," according to a federal affidavit outlining the charges against him.
"He targeted, specifically, TSA officers," FBI Special Agent in Charge David L. Bowdich told reporters, according to ABC News. "His intent was very very clear in his note."
Ciancia was charged with murder of a federal officer and commission of violence at an international airport, both potentially punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.
In addition to the note and eyewitness accounts, investigators have surveillance video of the shootings, Bowdich said, and they are seeking additional digital media evidence potentially gathered by civilians at the airport.
However, investigators have not been able to speak directly with Ciancia because of wounds he suffered as he was subdued.
"He is receiving medical treatment," Bowdich said. "I'm not going to talk about his gunshot wounds. At the moment, he is unresponsive and we are unable to talk to him, as of today."
Bowdich credited a swift law enforcement response for preventing further carnage.
"They did stop this before, we believe, it would have been a much more grave action to include additional casualties," Bowdich said.
Besides those shot, two civilians suffered what Bowdich described as "evasion injuries" caused by efforts to escape once the shooting erupted.
The shooting sent hundreds of passengers streaming out of the terminal, with many fleeing onto the airport runway. Dozens of flights to and from the airport were delayed or cancelled as a "tactical alert" was triggered for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Authorities said Ciancia was able to make it all the way to the back of the terminal, near the departure gate, before he was shot down by officers and taken into custody, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The note found at the scene indicated Ciancia's anti-government sentiments and suggested that he expected to die in the airport shootout, reported ABC News.
The note ended with the letters "NWO," according to law enforcement sources, which is believed to stand for "New World Order." The note also specifically mentioned anger and frustration targeted toward the TSA.
Ciancia's family was also concerned for his well-being. Ciancia's father contacted police in Pennsville, New Jersey, on Friday with the concern that his son may be suicidal, Chief Allen Cummings of the Pennsville Police Department told ABC News.
"Their younger child got a text message from Paul stating that there were some comments in there about his well-being, and he wanted to possibly take his own life," Cummings said.
Officers went to Ciancia's apartment in Los Angeles before the shooting and talked to his roommates, Cummings said.
"He was a really nice guy," one of his roommates told ABC News. "A little introverted, but nothing I would ever, ever expect him to do."