Los Angeles airport terminal re-opens as shooting probed

Reuters

By Alex Dobuzinskis and Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES, Nov 2 (Reuters) - The Los Angeles InternationalAirport terminal where a gunman opened fire on Friday morning,killing an unarmed federal airport security officer and woundingothers, re-opened to travelers the day after the shooting asauthorities probed the motive behind the attack.

Authorities have identified the suspected shooter as PaulAnthony Ciancia, 23, and they said he was shot and wounded bypolice in an exchange of gunfire at Terminal 3 at one of theworld's busiest airports.

Authorities said the gunman fatally shot one TSA officer,identified as Gerardo Hernandez, 39, who was the first from theagency to be killed in the line of duty.

Hernandez was at a document verification checkpoint when hewas shot, said a TSA official who spoke on condition ofanonymity. Two other TSA officers were wounded, the officialsaid.

The gunman, a U.S. citizen who appeared to be acting alone,pushed through the screening gates and ran deep into thepassenger boarding area at Terminal 3, before law enforcementofficers caught up with him in a food court, said PatrickGannon, chief of the Los Angeles Airport Police.

The FBI on Saturday had not provided the total number ofpeople shot in the attack. Paramedics took five who were woundedat the scene of the shooting to area hospitals, Los Angeles FireDepartment officials said.

The Los Angeles Times reported that among the wounded wasteacher Brian Ludmer, 29, who was shot in the leg. Ludmerteaches high school in the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas.

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center received three men woundedin the shootings, with one individual listed in criticalcondition on Saturday and one in fair condition, while the thirdwas treated and released on Friday, hospital spokesman MarkWheeler said in a statement.

The hospital did not release identities of its patients, butthe Los Angeles Times, citing a law enforcement source, saidCiancia, with leg and head wounds, was in critical condition atthe hospital, which hampered police efforts to interview him.

The airport on Saturday began allowing travelers whoabandoned luggage and other property as they ran to escape thegunfire to collect their belongings at ticket counters.

The area of Terminal 3 beyond metal detectors wheretravelers board flights was re-opened to passengers at mid-dayon Saturday, said Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of LosAngeles World Airports. The terminal zone where passengers pickup boarding passes had earlier resumed operations.

"Barely 24 hours after this opened, Terminal 3 was partiallyopened. Less than 30 hours after this incident this airport isgoing to be fully functioning. That is a remarkableachievement," said Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin.

TRIBUTE TO OFFICER

Los Angeles police officers will be wearing black mourningbands in memory of Hernandez, Chief Charlie Beck of Los AngelesPolice Department said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the airport said its 100-foot pylons would lightthe night blue through Sunday to honor Hernandez.

"RIP," the post said.

Late on Friday, FBI agents obtained a search warrant andcombed through Ciancia's home in the suburban Sun Valley sectionof Los Angeles, FBI spokeswoman Ari Dekofksy said.

John Mincey, Ciancia's former roommate from the Los Felizneighborhood of Los Angeles, told local television station KABCthat Ciancia never displayed hatred or ties to "any hate group,or anything like that."

Armed with an assault rifle, the shooter touched off panicand chaos. Hundreds of travelers ran for safety or franticallydove for cover behind luggage, as loud alarms blared through theterminal.

Traveler Lauren Stephens, 47, said she had just put herluggage on the scale at the ticket counter in Terminal 3 whenshe heard gunshots. "Somebody just yelled 'Run!' at the top oftheir lungs. ... I just left my bag and I just ran like hell.Everybody ran."

The investigation into the attack will examine the shootingitself as well as the gunman's background and motivation,Special Agent David Bowdich of the FBI said on Friday. "Our goalis to do a true scrub on the individual to find out what was thetipping point for this person," he said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has asked that flags on citybuildings be flown at half-staff, local media said.

DISTURBING TEXT MESSAGE

In New Jersey, police and FBI agents descended on Ciancia'sfamily's home in Pennsville Township.

Pennsville Police Chief Allen Cummings said he had beencontacted by Ciancia's father before the shooting, prompted by aworrisome text message from the young man to his brother.

The police chief declined to reveal more about the contentof the text message but said that family members toldinvestigators they had no previous indications that Ciancia, whomoved to California about 18 months ago, was troubled.

Neighbors who live across the street from the Ciancia familysaid the father, also named Paul, runs an auto body shop in thetown.

"I believe he worked for his father," said one neighbor,Jennifer Pagan, of the younger Paul.

Her husband, Orlando Pagan, said the elder Ciancia had madeseveral friendly gestures since they had moved into their house10 years ago. When Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey last year, "heasked if we wanted to take our personal vehicle and put it onhis property." The Ciancia property is slightly higher.

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