L.A. Airport Shooting Suspect Charged by U.S. in Death

The suspect in the Nov. 1 shooting death of a Transportation Security Administration officer at Los Angeles International Airport was charged with murder by federal prosecutors in a potential capital case.

Paul Ciancia, 23, was accused of killing a federal officer on duty and of using a firearm to perform an act of violence at an international airport, according to a criminal complaint filed yesterday in Los Angeles federal court. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Ciancia shot a TSA officer with a Smith & Wesson assault rifle at point-blank range, according to the affidavit filed in support of the charges. He started to go up an escalator, and when he saw that the wounded officer was moving, returned and shot the officer again, killing him, according to prosecutors.

The gunman allegedly shot and wounded two other TSA employees and a civilian passenger before he was shot by airport police, according the affidavit. Ciancia carried a note that said he had made “the conscious decision to try to kill” and that he wanted instill fear in the “traitorous minds” of TSA employees, according to the affidavit.

Hospitalized

Ciancia is hospitalized and unresponsive so police haven’t been able to interview him, David L. Bowdich, the FBI special agent in charge, said at a press conference yesterday. It’s unclear when he will make his first court appearance.

The shooting rampage halted flights in and out of the Los Angeles airport, the fifth-busiest in the U.S. by domestic passengers, stranding thousands and delaying flights across the U.S. The biggest carriers are United Continental Holdings Inc.’s United Airlines, AMR Corp.’s American Airlines, Southwest Airlines Co. and Delta Air Lines Inc.

As many as 866 flights, including 40 yesterday, were canceled, delayed or rerouted.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, didn't immediately return a call outside regular business hour inquiring whether Ciancia has an attorney.

The case is U.S. v. Paul Ciancia, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles.)

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