LAX Shooter Remains “Unresponsive”

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 3 2013 11:08 AM

LAX Shooter Remains “Unresponsive”

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A traveler steps into the security screening as Transportation Security Administration agents look on after Terminal 3 was re-opened on Nov. 2

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

UPDATE, 3 November at 1:10 p.m.: Paul Ciancia, the 23-year-old gunman charged in Friday’s shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, allegedly told authorities he acted alone and that a friend had dropped him off at the airport, a law enforcement official tells the Associated Press.

It remains unclear whether the friend who dropped Ciancia off at the airport knew what he was planning. What does seem clear is that Ciancia intended to die during the eventual shootout, Rep. Michael McCaul, the Republican who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security told CNN on Sunday, saying he had read the note the alleged gunman was carrying. "It's clearly one of those notes that reads, 'I'm going to kill people and I don't want to kill civilians,' with the idea that he's going to die at the end of this," McCaul told CNN, according to Reuters. He said the note "talks a lot about killing TSA agents, and he said, 'If I just kill one, my mission is accomplished.'"  

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ORIGINAL POST: Officials charged 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia with murder of a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport, two charges that could lead to the death penalty or life in prison. "It will be the decision of the attorney general of the United States whether or not to seek the death penalty in this case," U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte said as he announced the charges against Ciancia, reports Reuters. So far, officials have been unable to interview Ciancia, who remains “unresponsive” in the hospital after he was shot four times, including in the leg and head, reports the Los Angeles Times.

As he announced the charges against Ciancia, Birotte, laid out the details of the events Friday that began when the 23-year-old arrived at LAX, pulled out a Smith & Wesson .223-caliber assault rifle and began firing at a TSA officer that was checking IDs and boarding passes. That’s when 39-year-old Gerardo Hernandez was shot at point-blank range. Ciancia turned away but when he realized Hernandez was still alive, he “returned to finish him off,” notes the Associated Press. Ciancia later fired on at least two other TSA employees and an airline passenger before he was shot.

In the duffel bag where he had the rifle, Ciancia also had a signed, handwritten note that resembled a “suicide note,” a law enforcement official tells the Los Angeles Times. The note expressed Ciancia’s desire to “kill multiple TSA employees,” an FBI special agent said, according to Reuters.  "He addressed them at one point in the letter and said that he wanted to ‘instill fear into their traitorous minds.'" Eyewitnesses say Ciancia walked up to several people and calmly asked, “Hey, are you TSA?” and when they said no, he just kept walking, reports CNN. The Times also hears word Ciancia’s note mentioned “NWO,” a possible reference to the New World Order, a conspiracy theory that contends a global elite is working toward creating a totalitarian one-world government.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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