Shooting suspect Paul Ciancia pleaded not guilty in a court appearance on Thursday. Patrick Healy reports from downtown Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013.
A 23-year-old man accused of killing a Transportation Security Administration agent during a November shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport pleaded not guilty Thursday to nearly a dozen felony charges, including murder.
A judge was assigned to the case during the brief court appearance, and a trial date was set for Feb. 11, 2014 in Los Angeles federal court.
The murder and attempted murder charges filed against Paul Anthony Ciancia mean he could be eligible for the death penalty if prosecutors decide to pursue that punishment.
"There is also the decision of whether not the death penalty will be sought," said Thom Mrozek of the U.S. Attorney's Office. "It is a multi-layered process."
Ciancia allegedly walked into the terminal the morning of Nov. 1, pulled a Smith & Wesson 5.56-mm M&P15 semiautomatic rifle out of a duffel bag and opened fire, court documents said.
TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez, a 39-year-old father of two, was fatally shot. TSA Officers Tony Grigsby and James Speer, as well as a teacher, were wounded.
Court papers said Ciancia was targeting TSA officers. Authorities said he had a signed note saying he wanted to kill TSA agents and "instill fear in their traitorous minds."
Police responding to the rampage shot Ciancia. He was taken to a hospital but was released into federal custody Nov. 19.
Ciancia was also charged with committing acts of violence at an international airport, one count of using a firearm to commit murder and three counts of brandishing and discharging a firearm.