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LAX gunman 'targeted airport security staff'

© Photo: AFP

Video by Nicholas RUSHWORTH

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-02

The suspected gunman who killed one security agent and wounded several others in a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport Friday is believed to have targeted transport security staff because he felt airport checks violated his rights.

The suspected gunman who went on a deadly rampage at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday is thought to have specifically targeted federal security agents because he felt the security screenings violated his constitutional rights, officials said.

The shooting left one Transportation Security Administration officer dead and several people injured, including two other TSA employees.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has named the lone suspect as Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, and said he was a Los Angeles resident originating from New Jersey.


Several news outlets said the gunman had strong anti-government views and bore a grudge against the TSA in particular, which handles airport security checks in the US and which was founded in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

A law enforcement officer told the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity that the suspect had a handwritten note in his bag in which he said he wanted to kill TSA staff and “pigs”. The officer said the note referred to how Ciancia felt violated by TSA searches and that he, as a “pissed-off patriot”, was upset at former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The gunman opened fire with an assault rifle at around 9:20 am local time in Terminal 3 of the airport, shooting his way through a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoint.

He proceeded into the main part of the terminal, shooting in other locations before being detained following a gunfight with police.

Passengers were evacuated from the scene and the airport was quickly put on shutdown amid reports of multiple casualties, causing hundreds of flights to be massively delayed.

Television reports suggested that Ciancia may have been linked to the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and may have even worked there, but the information has not been confirmed.

“There is a tremendous amount of investigative work that will need to be done,” Chief Patrick Gannon of LAX police said at a press conference on Friday.

Suicide warning

New Jersey Police Chief Allen Cummings said on Friday that the suspect had sent a sibling a text message mentioning suicide, leading their father to seek authorities' help in finding him.

Ciancia's father called Cummings early Friday afternoon about the text message from the 23-year-old “in reference to him taking his own life,” he told AP.

Cummings contacted Los Angeles police, who sent a patrol car to Ciancia's apartment. “Basically, there were two roommates there,” Cummings said. “They said, ‘We saw him yesterday and he was fine’.”

It wasn't clear whether the police visited before or after the shooting.

Flight chaos

All outgoing flights from LAX, which is the country’s third largest airport, were suspended following the incident, causing major disruption to domestic and international air traffic.

Terminal 3 is home to Virgin America, AirTran, Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, JetBlue, Virgin Australia and other airlines. It remained closed on Friday evening.

US President Barack Obama had been briefed about the incident and administration officials were in touch with law enforcement officials on the ground, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-11-01

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