Mourners gathered at a Southern California beach Monday night to remember an airport security agent killed in the line of duty when a gunman opened fire inside a terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
Hundreds of TSA employees and all members of the flying – and non-flying – public grieved the loss at Dockweiler State Beach.
Gerardo Hernandez was killed Nov. 1 allegedly by a 23-year-old angry at the federal agency created after the Sept. 11 terror attacks with the intent of boosting airport security. Hernandez is the first TSA agent to die in the line of duty.
Local news from across Southern California
"He was loved," said Jose Araujo, a fellow TSA agent. "He's going to be missed and he's never going to be forgotten."
Hernandez, 39, has been described by many as a dedicated family man who spoke often and highly of his wife and two children – a son and a daughter.
The hastily planned vigil in honor of Hernandez is the brainchild of his immediate supervisor. She said she wants there to be no doubt that her coworker died a hero last Friday in Terminal 3.
"Amazing man. He was always smiling, always bringing joy to the checkpoint,” said Danielle, a TSA supervisor who declined to give her last name. “Always talking about his family, his wife, his kids. I couldn't admire him any more than I do now."
The airport security supervisor declined to discuss security at the nation’s third-busiest airport, but said she’s proud of the 2,500 women and men who work at LAX with TSA every day.
And she said that while their unified front is stronger than ever, their sorrow is very real.
"I'm the supervisor. I need to bring them back to reality. I need to bring them back to work. We need to face this, we're not gonna let no one defeat us. I want you guys to know that TSA is not a joke. We're here. We have a job and we believe in our job," she said.