LOS ANGELES -- LOS ANGELES (AP) — The unemployed motorcycle mechanic suspected in the deadly shooting at the Los Angeles airport set out to kill multiple employees of the Transportation Security Administration and hoped the attack would "instill fear in their traitorous minds," authorities said Saturday.

Paul Ciancia was so determined to take lives that, after shooting a TSA officer and going up an escalator, he turned back to see the officer move and returned to finish him off, according to surveillance video reviewed by investigators.

In a news conference announcing charges against Ciancia, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. spelled out a chilling chain of events at LAX that began when Ciancia strode into Terminal 3, pulled a Smith & Wesson .223-caliber assault rifle from his duffel bag and fired repeatedly at point-blank range at a TSA officer. The officer was checking IDs and boarding passes at the base of an escalator leading to the main screening area.

After killing that officer, Ciancia fired on at least two other uniformed TSA employees and a civilian airline passenger, who were all wounded. Airport police eventually shot him as panicked passengers cowered in stores and restaurants.

Ciancia, 23, was hit four times and remained hospitalized Saturday, but there was no word on his condition. He was shot in the mouth and the leg, authorities said.

The duffel bag contained a handwritten letter signed by Ciancia stating that he had "made the conscious decision to try to kill" multiple TSA employees and that he wanted to stir fear in them, FBI agent in charge David L. Bowdich said.

Federal prosecutors filed charges of first-degree murder and commission of violence at an international airport. The charges could qualify him for the death penalty.

The FBI was still looking into Ciancia's past, but investigators said they had not found evidence of previous crimes or any run-ins with the TSA. They said he had never applied for a job with the agency.

Authorities believe someone dropped Ciancia off at the airport. Agents were reviewing surveillance tapes to piece together the sequence of events.

"We are really going to draw a picture of who this person was, his background, his history. That will help us explain why he chose to do what he did," Bowdich said. "At this point, I don't have the answer on that."

The note found in the duffel bag suggested Ciancia was willing to kill almost any TSA officer.

"Black, white, yellow, brown, I don't discriminate," the note read, according to a paraphrase by a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The screed also mentioned "fiat currency" and "NWO," possible references to the New World Order, a conspiracy theory that foresees a totalitarian one-world government.

When searched, the suspect had five 30-round magazines, and his bag contained hundreds more rounds in boxes, the law-enforcement official said.

Terminal 3, the area where the shooting happened, reopened Saturday. Passengers who had abandoned luggage to escape Friday's gunfire were allowed to return to collect their bags.

The TSA planned to review its security policies in the wake of the attack. Administrator John Pistole did not say if that would mean arming officers.

As airport operations returned to normal, a few more details trickled out about Ciancia, who by all accounts was reserved and solitary.

Former classmates barely remember him and even a recent roommate could say little about the young man who moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles less than two years ago. A former classmate at Salesianum School in Wilmington, Del., said Ciancia was incredibly quiet.

"He kept to himself and ate lunch alone a lot," David Hamilton told the Los Angeles Times. "I really don't remember any one person who was close to him .... In four years, I never heard a word out of his mouth."

On Friday, Ciancia's father called police in New Jersey, worried about his son in L.A. The young man had sent texts to his family that suggested he might be in trouble, at one point even saying goodbye.

The call came too late. Ten minutes earlier, police said, he had walked into the airport.

In the worrisome messages, the younger Ciancia did not mention suicide or hurting others, but his father had heard from a friend that his son may have had a gun, said Allen Cummings, police chief in Pennsville, a small blue-collar town near the Delaware River where Ciancia grew up.

The police chief called Los Angeles police, who sent a patrol car to Ciancia's apartment. There, two roommates said that they had seen him a day earlier and he had appeared to be fine.

But by that time, gunfire was already breaking out at the airport.

"There's nothing we could do to stop him," Cummings said.

The police chief said he learned from Ciancia's father that the young man had attended a technical school in Florida, then moved to Los Angeles in 2012 hoping to get a job as a motorcycle mechanic. He was having trouble finding work.

Ciancia graduated in December 2011 from Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando, Fla., said Tina Miller, a spokeswoman for Universal Technical Institute, the Scottsdale, Ariz., company that runs the school.

A basic motorcycle mechanic course takes about a year, she said.

On Friday, as swarms of passengers dropped to the ground or ran for their lives, the gunman seemed to ignore anyone except TSA targets.

Leon Saryan of Milwaukee had just passed through security and was looking for a place to put his shoes and belt back on when he heard gunfire. He managed to hide in a store. As he was cowering in the corner, the shooter approached.

"He looked at me and asked, 'TSA?' I shook my head no, and he continued on down toward the gate," Saryan said.

Authorities identified the dead TSA officer as Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39, the first official in the agency's 12-year history to be killed in the line of duty.

Friends remembered him as a doting father and a good neighbor who went door-to-door warning neighbors to be careful after his home was burglarized.

In brief remarks outside the couple's house, his widow, Ana Hernandez, said Saturday that her husband came to the U.S. from El Salvador at age 15.

"He took pride in his duty for the American public and for the TSA mission," she said.


Associated Press writers Alicia Chang in Los Angeles and Geoff Mulvihill in New Jersey contributed to this report.

Related on HuffPost:

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  • Gun on the ground

    A police officer stands over what<a href="https://twitter.com/TJD19083" target="_blank"> appears to be a high powered rifle </a>in Terminal 3 at LAX on Friday.

  • Shuttled to safety

    Passengers were shuttled away from Terminal 3, where eye witnesses said a shooter was firing shots with a high-powered rifle on Friday.

  • Inside the terminal

    <a href="https://twitter.com/pascaljosh/status/396329846462099458/photo/1" target="_blank">Police assess the situation</a> at LAX on Friday after a gunman allegedly fired shots near Terminal 3 with an assault rifle.

  • LAX Shooting

    An aerial view of LAX which was shut down Friday over reports of gunfire coming from Terminal 3 and at least one gunman.

  • Traffic stops

    Traffic is backed up on a Los Angeles highway after LAX was shut down Friday over reports of gunfire coming from Terminal 3 and at least one gunman.

  • Outside the terminal

    Outside Terminal 3 at LAX, police cars go rushing by to the scene of gunshots, where at least one gunman has been reported firing shots.

  • Outisde Terminal 3

    Onlookers wonder how guns got past security as LAX remains on lockdown following reports of a gunman shooting a high-powered rifle near Terminal 3.

  • Getting to safety

    Those at LAX waiting to board planes are shown being driven to a safer location as reports of a gunman firing a high-powered rifle near Terminal 3 paralyzed the usually bustling airport on Friday.

  • Emergency crews

    Emergency crews surround LAX as the airport shut down after reports of a gunman firing rounds from a high-powered rifle on Friday.

  • Police and S.W.A.T.

    Police and S.W.A.T. members surround the roofs of nearby buildings as reports of a gunman near Terminal 3 at LAX firing shots from a high-powered rifle paralyzed the airport.

  • LAX Officer

    An LAX officer on the scene near Terminal 3, where a gunman opened fire with a high-powered rifle, paralyzing the usually bustling airport on Friday.

  • No one in, no one out

    <a href="https://twitter.com/CaseyWianCNN" target="_blank">Traffic comes to a standstill</a> in Los Angeles after LAX was shut down following reports of a gunman shooting a high powered rifle.

  • Triage team sets up

    From <a href="https://twitter.com/DanielleCNN" target="_blank">CNN's Danielle Dellorto</a>: Shooting at #LAX. Triage team setting up. Red = critical. Yellow = stable/needs treatment. Green = walking wounded.

  • Overview: flights grounded

    A picture of a current live feed of air traffic shows a normally bustling LAX shut down with suspended air travel as planes stay grounded and others in the air go to a different airport.

  • Detail: flights grounded

    A picture of a current live feed of air traffic shows a normally bustling LAX shut down with suspended air travel as planes stay grounded and others in the air go to a different airport.

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The FBI has released a photo of Paul Ciancia, the man it identifies as the LAX shooting suspect:


Photo Credit: AP/FBI

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LAX shooting suspect Paul Ciancia was "just a normal kid" from "a super, super-nice family" when he was growing up in New Jersey, neighbors told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Ciancia's mother, Susan, died from cancer a few years ago, neighbor Orlando Pagan told the Inquirer. His father, also named Paul, has an auto repair shop in Pennsville, N.J., where the younger Ciancia worked before leaving South Jersey.

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Mobile phone footage obtained by TMZ reveals chaos inside Los Angeles International Airport during the Friday morning shooting that left one Transportation Security Administration agent dead and several more wounded.

The video starts with two armed police officers walking through the airport lobby. One officer shouts for everyone to hit the floor. After a cut in the video, dozens of travelers emerge from what appears to be the security line at the airport, running with their luggage toward the exit. In the distance, police car sirens are wailing.

A uniformed TSA agent is among the crowd fighting to reach the exit.

Read the full story here.

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Paul Ciancia, the 23-year-old former New Jersey resident who has been identified by the FBI as the suspected LAX gunman, was a loner at the private high school he attended in Delaware, a former schoolmate told the Los Angeles Times.

The newspaper reported:

“In four years, I never heard a word out of his mouth,” said David Hamilton, who graduated with Ciancia from Salesianum School in Willmington, Del., in 2008, and is now an editorial assitant at a publishing firm in Philadelphia. “He kept to himself and ate lunch alone a lot. I really don’t remember any one person who was close to him.”

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The Associated Press reports that authorities said the alleged shooter carried a note saying he wanted to "kill TSA."

Read the full story here.

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Production on the TV series "Mad Men" was suspended on Friday following the shooting at LAX, according to tweets from a crew member.

A rep for AMC confirmed the "Mad Men" crew was shooting at the airport, but could not provide details. According to key grip Dustin Woods, "Mad Men" was filming at American Airlines, Terminal 4, and was told to move to the far end of the tunnel for safety following the shooting.

Read more here.

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Law-enforcement officials tell NBC News that Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, entered the airport around 9:20 a.m. pacific time and opened fire inside Terminal 3. The Associated Press also reported that authorities named Ciancia as the suspect.

Read more here.

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Dramatic footage filmed from a KCBS news helicopter shows responders escorting a possible shooting victim to an ambulance in a wheelchair around 9:55 a.m. local time. The victim appears to be a white male dressed in a TSA uniform, and may have suffered a chest injury. KCBS could not confirm the nature or extent of the injury.

--Andres Jauregui and Oliver Noble

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Officials have increased security measures at airports near Washington, D.C., including Reagan National and Dulles International, according to the Washington Post.

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HuffPost LA reports:

Due to a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport Friday morning, all exits to LAX from the 105 and 405 freeways are closed, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Motorists are advised to avoid all streets and freeways near the airport, as they are extremely congested. Century Boulevard is closed from Sepulveda to Aviation. The Metro Green Line service is not affected. For live traffic updates, check CHP's Twitter.

Read more here.

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Patrick Gannon, chief of airport police at LA International Airport, described in a press conference how the suspect entered Terminal 3 carrying a weapon.

"Around 9:20 this morning, an individual came into Terminal 3 of this airport, pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and began to open fire in the terminal," Gannon said. "He proceeded up into the screening area and continued shooting, and went past the screeners back into the airport itself."

Gannon said that officers "tracked the individual through the airport and engaged him in gunfire in Terminal 3."

Gannon also told reporters that members of his staff said a training they completed earlier this week to prepare for similar situations was "critical" to how officers responded today.

Police believe that the shooter acted alone, he said.

-- Steven Hoffer

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The Los Angeles Times and NBC News have reported that a TSA agent was killed in the shooting.

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The LAPD headquarters posted a statement to its Facebook page in response to the shooting:

Today at 9:30 am a single shooter in LAX around terminal 3 area started shooting. Multiple victims were injuried. LAX PD engaged the suspect. Suspect was taken into custody. For precautionary reasons terminal 3 and surrounding areas will be swept.

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Tory Belleci of the Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters" show said he was on his way to Philadelphia when the shooting happened.

"I was in Terminal 3 when we heard the shots," he told HuffPost. "At first it didn't register. Then, everybody started panicking and running. We ran toward the terminal, but the gate was locked. We were trapped. It felt like an eternity.

"We heard the shots coming from the elevator. One person near me said the shooting happened in the common area.

"Finally, security opened the door and we ran out on the tarmac. And people were just running everywhere. It was crazy. People were looking for something solid to hide behind, something a bullet wouldn't pass through.

"I was near one woman who was separated from her mother, who was in a wheelchair. She was frantic."

Belleci was on his was to Philadelphia for a Pumpkin Chuckin' competition.

-- Buck Wolf

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Click here to see photos NBC Los Angeles and others posted to social media showing the chaos of the morning's events.

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J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, issued a statement on the shooting:

“We are sickened by reports of today’s shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport," he said. "Our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to the passengers and Transportation Security Officers killed or injured in this heinous act. Thank you to all of our brave TSOs who put their lives on the line every day to keep the flying public safe. AFGE is monitoring the situation along with TSA management.”

-- Michael McAuliff

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The Los Angeles Times has a map of LAX's Terminal 3, where the shooting occurred.

From the Times' liveblog:

Brian Adamick, 43, said he was getting ready to fly to Chicago for his brother’s wedding and was boarding a Spirit Airlines flight at Gate 32 in Terminal 3....A few minutes after he got outside, he said buses showed up to help evacuate passengers. He saw a wounded TSA agent board one of the buses. The man’s ankle was bloody: “it looked like it was straight out of the movies,” Adamick said. The man, told him, “I got shot, I’m fine.” He told passengers not to worry about him and that he had been shot before, Adamick said.

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