Suspected L.A. airport gunman planned 'suicide' mission -congressman

Reuters

By Jonathan Allen and Jonathan Kaminsky

Nov 3 (Reuters) - The suspect in a deadly shooting at LosAngeles International Airport wrote that he intended to dieafter killing at least one security officer, the head of a keycongressional security committee said on Sunday, as authoritiesstepped up patrols at the airport and considered changes toaviation security rules.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, also discussed weaknesses inairport security in the "suicide" note before Friday's attack,Michael McCaul, the Republican chair of the House Committee onHomeland Security, told CNN.

"The other thing he wanted to talk about was how easy it isto bring a gun into an airport and do something just like hedid," McCaul said of the note.

An officer with the Transportation Security Administrationdied in the shooting, the first employee from the agency killedin the line of duty since it was created after the Sept. 11,2001 attacks. Three others were wounded on Friday.

Extra uniformed and plainclothes police were patrolling LosAngeles' international airport, the world's sixth-busiest, as itresumed full operations on Sunday, said Sergeant BelindaNettles, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Airport Police.

Passengers were cautioned to expect delays, Nettles said.

The shooting also has brought calls for improved U.S.airport security. The alleged gunman is believed to havedeliberately taken advantage of security vulnerabilities andtargeted TSA agents with an assault weapon before police shotand wounded him, ending the rampage.

The federal Transportation Safety Administration isexploring changes to security at Los Angeles' internationalairport and other airports, TSA Administrator John Pistole toldreporters on Saturday.

"We have been discussing what the policies and protocolshave been to now," Pistole said. "Obviously, this gives us greatconcern." He did not additional provide details.

MOTIVE UNCERTAIN

McCaul said the note allegedly written by Ciancia "talks alot about killing TSA agents, and he said, 'If I just kill one,my mission is accomplished.'"

In a criminal complaint filed on Saturday, investigatorssaid they found a handwritten letter signed by Ciancia in hisbag that addressed TSA officials, writing that he wanted to"instill fear in your traitorous minds."

It was not immediately clear whether McCaul was referring tothe same note mentioned in the complaint.

Investigators have declined to discuss a possible motive forCiancia's reported grievance with the TSA.

Authorities charge that Ciancia walked into the airport'sTerminal 3 on Friday morning, took out an assault rifle from hisbag and opened fire, shooting dead Gerardo Hernandez, a39-year-old TSA officer at a document checkpoint.

Ciancia, authorities charge, then went on to shoot and woundtwo other TSA employees and a passenger, prompting a panickedevacuation.

The passenger, Brian Ludmer, described in local mediareports as a 29-year-old high-school teacher, was awaitingfurther surgery on his fractured leg at Ronald Reagan UCLAMedical Center, a spokesman for the hospital said on Sunday.

Another victim, who has not been identified, remains incritical condition, the spokesman said.

The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles has charged Ciancia withmurdering a federal officer and committing violence at aninternational airport, crimes that carry a possible deathpenalty if Ciancia is convicted.

McCaul also said that police visited Ciancia's home afterbeing alerted by worried relatives, but he had already left forthe airport.

Ciancia's father, who lives in Pennsville Township, NewJersey, called local police before the shooting after Ciancia,who moved to California 18 months ago and lives in suburban LosAngeles, sent his brother a worrisome text message.

McCaul said police in Pennsville contacted Los Angelespolice, who then "visited the suspect's home the morning of theshooting and missed him by literally, probably, 45 minutes."

Andy Neiman, an LAPD spokesman, said on Sunday that beforethe shooting began, officers went to Ciancia's home and spoke tohis roommates. They said they had seen Ciancia that morningbefore he left the house.

"His roommates had seen him and said he was in good shapeand there was no additional follow-up," Neiman said.

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