U.S. District Attorney Andre Birotte has formally charged Paul Ciancia, the alleged gunman from Friday’s Los Angeles International Airport shooting spree, with murdering a federal officer; Ciancia also faces a separate charge of committing violence at an international airport, according to USA Today. An affidavit states that the 23-year-old fired a .223-caliber assault rifle at point-blank range, killing Transportation Security Agency officer Gerardo Hernandez, and wounding two other TSA officers and two civilians.
Ciancia was arrested Friday after authorities say he barged into a terminal, pulled an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle from his duffle bag and opened fire, CBS News reports. The killing was "believed to be a premeditated act of murder in the first-degree," Birotte said in announcing the charges. Authorities believe that someone dropped Ciancia off at the terminal, and are now reviewing surveillance tapes and evidence in order to determine the sequence of events that lead to the mayhem.
CBS News also confirms that the suspect appeared to be determined to lash out at a TSA officer, saying in a note that he wanted to kill at least one TSA officer, and didn’t care who it was. Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin and LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon said that had the police not wounded Ciancia within minutes of the attack, the toll could have been much higher.
ABC News reported that Ciancia carried a note with him the day of the shooting that stated he “wanted to instill fear in your traitorous mind.” The charges brought against Ciancia are punishable by either life in prison or the death penalty.
The trouble with the charges lies in the fact that Ciancia is currently unresponsive due to the inflicted wound he sustained, as he was subdued. FBI Special Agent David Bowdich declined comment about Ciancia's injuries to ABC: “I’m not going to talk about his gunshot wounds. At the moment, he is unresponsive and we are unable to talk to him, as of today.”
ABC notes that the affidavit stated the following course of events: "at approximately 9:20 a.m. [PT Friday], Ciancia entered Terminal 3 at LAX and approached the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint. Ciancia pulled a Smith & Wesson .223 caliber M&P-15 assault rifle out of his bag and fired multiple rounds at point-blank range at a TSA officer [Hernandez] who was then on duty and in uniform, wounding the officer. Ciancia began to walk up an escalator, looked back at the wounded officer, who in video appeared to move, and returned to shoot the wounded officer again. The TSA officer was fatally wounded.”