A man pulled a semi-automatic rifle from a bag and shot his way past a checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport yesterday, killing a security officer and wounding two other people in an attack that sent terrified travellers running for cover and disrupted US flights from coast to coast, authorities said.
The suspected gunman was wounded in a shoot-out with police and was taken into custody, said Los Angeles police Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger. A motive wasn’t immediately clear.
A Transportation Security Administration union official said the TSA officer was killed, citing local union officials. A law enforcement official said the shooting suspect is Paul Ciancia, 23, from New Jersey.
He was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing a hand-written note that said he “wanted to kill TSA and pigs,” said the official, who was briefed at LAX on the investigation and requested anonymity because was he was not authorised to speak publicly.
A second law enforcement official confirmed the identity, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
The TSA issued a brief statement yesterday afternoon, indicating that at least one other TSA agent was wounded and adding that further information would come from the FBI and police.
Officers exchanged fire with the gunman and apprehended him; police believe he was the only shooter, Los Angeles Airport Police chief Patrick Gannon said. “As you can imagine, a large amount of chaos took place in this entire incident.”
Flights destined for one of the busiest airports in the US were stopped from taking off from other airports, causing delays across the country.
It was not the first shooting at LAX. On July 4, 2002, a limousine driver opened fire at the airport’s El Al ticket counter, killing an airline employee and a person who was dropping off a friend at the terminal. Police killed the man.
A New Jersey police chief says the Los Angeles airport shooting suspect had apparently made references to suicide.
Pennsville chief Allen Cummings said Paul Ciancia’s father called him early yesterday afternoon saying another of his children had received a text message from the suspect “in reference to him taking his own life”.
Cummings says the elder Ciancia asked him for help in locating Paul. The chief says he called Los Angeles police, which sent a patrol car to Ciancia’s apartment.
There, two roommates said they had seen him on Thursday and that he was fine. Cummings says he told Ciancia’s father that because of the son’s age, he couldn’t take a missing persons report.
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