LOS ANGELES — The unemployed motorcycle mechanic suspected of carrying out the deadly shooting at the Los Angeles airport set out to kill multiple employees of the Transportation Security Administration and hoped the attack would “instill fear in their traitorous minds,” authorities said Saturday.
Paul Ciancia was so determined to take lives that, after shooting a TSA officer and going up an escalator, he turned back to see the officer move and returned to fire on him again, killing him, according to surveillance video reviewed by the FBI.
In a news conference announcing charges against Ciancia, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. spelled out a chilling chain of events inside LAX that began when Ciancia strode into Terminal 3, pulled a Smith & Wesson .223-caliber assault rifle out of his duffel bag and fired repeatedly at point-blank range at a TSA officer who was checking IDs and boarding passes at the base of an escalator leading to the main screening area.
After killing that officer, Ciancia fired on at least two other uniformed TSA employees and a civilian airline passenger, who were all wounded. Airport police eventually shot him as panicked passengers cowered in stores and restaurants.
Ciancia’s duffel bag contained a handwritten letter signed by Ciancia stating he’d “made the conscious decision to try to kill” multiple TSA employees and that he wanted to stir fear in them, said FBI Special Agent in Charge David L. Bowdich.
The bag also had five magazines of ammunition.
Federal prosecutors filed charges of first-degree murder and commission of violence at an international airport against Ciancia. The charges could qualify him for the death penalty.
The FBI was still looking into his past, but said they had not found past crimes or any run-ins with TSA.
Authorities believe someone dropped Ciancia off at the airport. Agents are reviewing surveillance tapes to piece together the exact sequence of events, he said.