Los Angeles airport gunman 'targeted security officials'

 

The gunman who shot dead a security officer and brought America's third busiest airport to a standstill on Friday afternoon had enough ammunition to have "killed everyone" in the terminal, the mayor of Los Angeles said as the FBI launched a probe into the 23-year-old suspect's motives.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, a Los Angeles resident, was wounded by police and detained after opening fire with an assault rifle in Terminal 3 of LA International Airport, wounding seven and killing a security agent from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Hundreds of flights were affected nationwide during the attack which stirred unsettling memories of the 11 September 2001 attacks among American air travellers and raised questions about airport security.

The terminal where the attack happened remained closed yesterday as authorities carried out investigations across an extensive crime scene. Ciancia is said to have opened fire at a security checkpoint after pulling a .223-calibre semi automatic assault-style rifle from a bag. He continued walking through Terminal 3 of the airport, where police shot him several times. He was taken into custody in a "critical condition".

Investigators said they wanted to know what had been "the tipping point" for the suspect, who had recently moved to LA from New Jersey. Sources said that he had sent "angry, rambling" text messages to family members in recent days and it has emerged that Ciancia's father contacted police in New Jersey shortly before the shooting, after an apparently suicidal text message was sent by the suspect to his brother.

The Los Angeles Times reported that a note was found on Ciancia expressing "disappointment in the government", and saying he had no intention to hurt innocent people. One witness said that he appeared to be targeting security officials. Leon Saryan told CNN that, after shooting a TSA officer, the attacker "calmly" approached him and asked: "TSA?"

"I just shook my head and he kept going," Mr Saryan said.

The security officer who was killed was Gerardo Hernandez, 39. The TSA said it was the first time one its officers had been killed in the line of duty. The security agency was set up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Its officers, who screen all commercial airline passengers and baggage, do not carry weapons.

Ciancia reportedly attended a private Catholic high school in Delaware. A former classmate said he was quiet, solitary and also a victim of bullying. "In four years I never heard a word out of his mouth," said David Hamilton, an editorial assistant at a publishing firm in Philadelphia. "He kept to himself and ate lunch alone a lot... he was quiet and people would take advantage of that."

The shootings sparked a debate over whether TSA agents should be armed. Tom Ridge, a former secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, said he opposed arming. "That requires a level of sophistication and law enforcement training... I'm not sure it's going to make that much of a difference," he said.

At a news conference on Friday night, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, said the gunman had at least 100 rounds "that could have literally killed everyone in that terminal".

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star