LOS ANGELES - The unemployed motorcycle mechanic suspected in 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 today.
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 finish him off, according to surveillance video reviewed by investigators.
In a news conference announcing charges against Ciancia, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. spelled out a chilling chain of events at LAX that began when Ciancia strode into Terminal 3, pulled a Smith & Wesson .223-caliber assault rifle from his duffel bag and fired repeatedly at point-blank range at a TSA officer. The officer 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, 23, was hit four times and remained hospitalized today, but there was no word on his condition. He was shot in the mouth and the leg, authorities said.
The duffel bag contained a handwritten letter signed by Ciancia stating that he had "made the conscious decision to try to kill" multiple TSA employees and that he wanted to stir fear in them, FBI agent in charge David L. Bowdich said.
Federal prosecutors filed charges of first-degree murder and commission of violence at an international airport. The charges could qualify him for the death penalty.