Prosecutors to Seek Death Penalty in LAX Shooting Rampage - NBC Southern California

Coverage of a fatal shooting at Los Angeles International Airport

Prosecutors to Seek Death Penalty in LAX Shooting Rampage

Paul Ciancia pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in the shooting death of TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez in November 2013

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    Prosecutors to Seek Death Penalty in LAX Shooting Rampage
    FBI
    The FBI released this California driver's license photo of Paul Anthony Ciancia, a 23-year-old New Jersey native living in Los Angeles who is accused of opening fire in Los Angeles International Airport on Nov. 1, 2013, killing a TSA agent and wounding others.

    Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the man charged with gunning down a Transportation Security Administration officer in a November 2013 shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport, according to court papers filed Friday.

    Prosecutors said Paul Ciancia, 24, acted intentionally Nov. 1, 2013 in the killing of the airport screening officer and terrorized passengers and colleagues of the fallen man. Ciancia has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in the killing of TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez, 39, and the wounding of three other people at LAX. 

    The New Jersey native is due in court Monday for a hearing on the status of his case.

    In court papers filed Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wrote, "Ciancia acted with the intent that his crimes would strike fear in the hearts of Transportation Security Administration employees and dissuade them from fulfillment of their duties. By committing his crimes on a weekday morning in a crowded terminal at one of the busiest airports in the world, ...Ciancia terrorized numerous airline passengers and airport employees by causing them to fear for their lives and experience extreme emotional distress."

    The shooting caused chaos and terror as security screeners fled their posts among a hail of bullets and passengers ran for cover. The airport was crippled for most of the day and flights across the country were interrupted.

    After allegedly opening fire on Hernandez at a screening checkpoint inside an LAX terminal, the gunman shot two more agents and an airline traveler, according to authorities. He used a semi-automatic rifle that he pulled from a duffel back at the checkpoint, investigators said.

    The document filed Friday characterized Hernandez as a "husband, father, and employee with the Transportation Security Administration, who enjoyed a strong relationship with his family and co-workers."

    His family and colleagues suffered "severe and irreparable harm," the document continued.

    Although officers quickly shot Ciancia and arrested him, it took hours for officers to search the rest of the airport and determine there were no additional gunmen. Ciancia was found with a note indicating plans to kill TSA agents and "instill fear in their traitorous minds," authorities said.

    The decision to seek the death penalty was up to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder after a review of thousands of piece of evidence in the investigation. A judge wants the case to be tried this year, but the death penalty decision could lead to delays.

    Slain TSA Officer Was One Week From 40th Birthday

    [LA] Slain TSA Officer Was One Week From 40th Birthday
    The Southern California TSA officer who was shot and killed while on duty in LAX was the first to die in the line of duty. His wife says he took pride in his work and enjoyed meeting travelers from around the world every day on the job. He would have turned 40 years old next week. Jane Yamamoto reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013.
    (Published Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013)

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