LAX gunman allegedly targeted TSA agents

The FBI continues to look for a motive behind a shooting rampage that left one dead and four wounded

By Prachi Gupta

Published November 3, 2013 7:38PM (EST)

New details are emerging days after a gunman opened fire at Los Angeles Airport's Terminal 3 on Friday, killing 39-year-old TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez and wounding two other TSA officers and two civilians. Law enforcement has identified the alleged gunman as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia, who has been charged for murdering a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport.

Ciancia, who used a .223-caliber assault rifle and had more than 100 rounds of ammunition, was taken down by officers within minutes of opening fire. He remains in unresponsive in a hospital after being was shot four times.

According to the FBI, Ciancia was targeting TSA employees. The Los Angeles Times reports:

The gunman was carrying a signed, handwritten note in his duffel bag that said he wanted to "instill fear into their traitorous minds," said David Bowdich, special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division at the FBI's Los Angeles office.

"His intent was very clear in his note," Bowdich told reporters Saturday. "In that note he indicated his anger and his malice toward the TSA officers."

A law enforcement official told The Times that the screed resembled a "suicide note." The gunman said he didn't want to hurt anyone "innocent" — only TSA agents. The note also mentioned "NWO," a possible reference to the New World Order, a conspiracy theory that holds that forces are trying to create a totalitarian one-world government.

The FBI hasn't yet uncovered a motive, however. Ciancia, an unemployed motorcycle mechanic, moved to Los Angeles 18 months ago. He was raised in a New Jersey suburb of Philadelphia "where his father runs an auto body shop," the Times reports.

"He was a sweet kid. A good, quiet boy. Nothing abnormal," said family friend Alan Levitsky, Referring to the disturbing contents of Ciancia's note, he said, "I don't know where any of that came from. The dad is not political at all."

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Airports Lax Los Angeles Shooting Tsa