Police Came Painfully Close to Stopping the LAX Shooting Before It Began

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 4 2013 11:08 AM

Police Came Within 45 Minutes of Potentially Stopping the LAX Shooting Before It Began

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A policeman is positioned outside Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport on November 1, 2013 after a gunman opened fire at a security checkpoint

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Police are still piecing together exactly what happened during Friday's fatal shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, although it appears as though they came painfully close to averting the shooting spree before it began. GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told CNN over the weekend that Los Angeles police, responding to a tip from Paul Ciancia's concerned family, arrived at the 23-year-old's home less than an hour after he left for the airport:

By the time officers arrived at Ciancia's apartment Friday, he had already left -- as little as 45 minutes earlier -- for the airport, according to U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul. ..."This is how we typically stop these things -- through good intelligence, and if family members or friends see a loved one who is exhibiting signs of mental illness ... then I think it's incumbent to call this to local authorities," McCaul said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union. "They actually did that in this case and, unfortunately, missed the suspect by a matter of minutes."
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According to police in Ciancia's hometown of Pennsville, N.J., Ciancia had sent a series of text messages to his family saying he was unhappy and suggesting something bad might happen. One such text message left his father concerned enough to call local police, who then relayed the info to the LAPD and asked that they check in on Ciancia. They sent officers to his L.A. apartment, but by the time they arrived Friday Ciancia was already on his way to the airport, allegedly armed with an assault rifle.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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