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

Reuters

By Jonathan Allen

Nov 3 (Reuters) - The suspected gunman in last week's deadlyattack at Los Angeles International Airport wrote a note sayinghe intended to die after killing at least one security officer,the chairman of a key U.S. security committee said on Sunday.

Twenty-three-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia also discussedweaknesses in airport security in the "suicide" note beforeFriday's attack, Michael McCaul, the Republican chair of theHouse Committee on Homeland Security told CNN.

Ciancia is accused of shooting dead a TransportationSecurity Administration officer, the first employee from theagency to die in the line of duty since it was created after theSept. 11 attacks in 2001. Airport police shot and wounded thegunman, ending the rampage.

"It's clearly one of those notes that reads, 'I'm going tokill people and I don't want to kill civilians,' with the ideathat he's going to die at the end of this," McCaul, who said hehad read the note, told CNN.

He said the note "talks a lot about killing TSA agents, andhe 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.

A report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civilrights group, that Ciancia was carrying literature showing hebelieved that the agency was involved in a conspiracy to createa single global government could not be confirmed.

ASSAULT RIFLE IN BAG

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 of the world's sixth-busiest airport.

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 the threat of executionif Ciancia is convicted.

McCaul suggested that the suspected shooter wanted todemonstrate what he viewed as lax security at airports.

"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.

McCaul also said that police visited Ciancia's home afterbeing alerted by worried relatives, but he had already left forthe airport about 45 minutes before.

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 to make a"welfare check" and spoke to his roommates. They said they hadseen Ciancia that morning before he left the house.

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

In message on Twitter, the Los Angeles Airport PoliceDivision warned passengers to expect delays on Sunday as theairport returns to "full operations."

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