Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, has been named as the suspected gunman in Friday’s shooting at LAX, which killed one TSA agent.
Ciancia is in critical condition, heavily sedated, having been gunned down by agents after he shot his way through the security checkpoint of Terminal 3. A (WARNING) disturbing and graphic image claiming to be Ciancia after he was shot was posted on via LiveLeak, and this TV image also appears to show him in the aftermath of the incident:
Here’s what we know about Paul Ciancia and his motivation for an incident that drew international headlines and snarled air traffic worldwide:
1. He’s ‘Anti-Government’ & ‘Wanted to Kill TSA & Pigs’
Ciancia reportedly has “strong anti-government views,” according to NBC’s Pete Williams. This assessment was determined by the “anti-goverment materials” in his possession when he was captured.
Witnesses say he was specifically targeting TSA employees — asking passengers whether they were TSA, and sparing them when they said they weren’t. One TSA agent was killed.
The AP reports Ciancia carried a handwritten note that said he “wanted to kill TSA and pigs.” The official criminal complaint states that he “made the conscious decision to try to kill” multiple TSA employees and wanted to “instill fear in [their] traitorous minds”:
ABC reports that his note to himself as a “pissed-off patriot” angry at Janet Napolitano, the former Department of Homeland Security Secretary secretary, and that he wanted to kill any and all TSA agents he encountered: “Black, white, yellow, brown, I don’t discriminate.”
Here’s the full criminal complaint:
Early reports suggested the gunman was armed with an AR-15, and the criminal complaint further specifies it was a Smith & Wesson .223 caliber M&P-15. He also had hundreds of rounds of ammunition on his person and in his duffel bag.
The complaint also describes in chilling detail how Ciancia allegedly walked back to finish off his fatal victim — 39-year-old Gerardo Hernandez —after noticing the agent’s body twitching.
Also wounded in the rampage were two more TSA officers — James Speer, 54, and Tony Grigsby, 36 — and a schoolteacher, Brian Ludmer of Calabasas High School.
2. He’s From South Jersey, the Son of an Auto Shop Owner, But Lived in L.A.
Ciancia is a U.S. citizen and resident of Los Angeles who grew up in Pennsville, South New Jersey.
He’s reportedly the son of an auto body shop owner in the town. Heavy.com located the business, tied to owner Paul Ciancia (see above) and called Salem County Auto Repair. There was no answer when we called the business.
Reporters and police gathered outside the family home in Pennsville, about a mile from the business, shortly after Ciancia was named as the shooter:
Neighbors told the L.A. Times that the suspect’s mother died in recent years, succumbing to multiple sclerosis.
On November 4, Ciancia’s family released this statement through lawyer John Jordan:
We, like most Americans, are shocked and numbed by the tragic events of last Friday. We acknowledge the need to understand what happened and why it happened. To that end, we, the Ciancia family, have fully cooperated with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies over the last several days. It is most important for us as a family to express our deep and sincere sympathy to the Hernandez family. By all accounts, Officer Hernandez was an exemplary member of the law enforcement community and a good family man. Our hearts go out to his family and many others who grieve his passing. We wish to convey, too, our hopes that those were wounded during this incident will experience quick and full recoveries.
We also regret the inconvenience experienced by thousands of travelers, as well as the administration and employees of the Los Angeles Airport. Paul is our son and brother. We will continue to love him and care for him. We will support him during the difficult times ahead. While we do not mean to minimize the grief and distress experienced by many other families, we hope that the public will understand that this is a very difficult time for our family too. The Ciancia family, our neighbors and friends need time to heal. So we ask that you respect our privacy.
3. He Recently Threatened Suicide, & Cops Went to His L.A. Apartment
LAPD spoke to Ciancia's roommates and they told the LAPD everything was fine. #laxshooting
— Robert AspieJourno (@AspieJourno) November 1, 2013
Police say the shooter’s brother got a text message from Ciancia Friday [today] saying he was thinking about taking his life.
ABC Philadelphia reports that after the brother received the text, he told his father, who told the Pennsville police chief. The chief reached out to authorities in L.A.
Pierre Thomas of ABC News reports that LAPD cops were at Ciancia’s L.A. apartment to perform a welfare check at the time of the shooting. A local reporter says Ciancia’s roommates told cops things were “fine.”
4. He Was an Awkward ‘Loner’ Who Was ‘Bullied’ in Catholic School
A classmate described him as a quiet, slightly built loner who kept to himself and was picked on for being awkward and shy:
In four years, I never heard a word out of his mouth. … He kept to himself and ate lunch alone a lot. …. I really don’t remember any one person who was close to him. He was quiet and people would take advantage of that.
But others who knew him described him as a normal kid.
5. Cops Say He Acted Alone
Police now believe the shooter was working alone, according to a press conference statement by the LAX police chief. This assurance comes despite earlier rumors of multiple gunmen and witness reports to that effect.
According to reports, Ciancia — bleeding from wounds to the face and mouth — managed to tell cops he was working alone before he was hospitalized and sedated.
Adding the confusion is footage of another man in handcuffs:
— FLO (@FloriBrula) November 1, 2013