Paul Anthony Ciancia, the 23-year-old man accused of opening fire inside one of the nation’s largest airports on Friday, was reportedly angry at the government and told his family he was prepared to die.
U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said that Ciancia entered Los Angeles International Airport on Friday morning carrying a .223-caliber M&P-15 assault rifle and an estimated 150 rounds of ammunition.
His shooting spree resulted in the first-ever death of a Transportation Security Administration officer, 39-year-old Gerardo I. Hernandez. Five others were wounded in the incident before Ciancia himself was repeatedly shot and then apprehended by law enforcement.
Birotte said that Ciancia has been charged with murdering a federal officer and commission of violence in an international airport, both felonies.
"He looked at me and asked, 'TSA?' I shook my head no, and he continued on down toward the gate, eye witness Leon Saryan, 65, said of his encounter with Ciancia. “He had his gun at the ready and but for the grace of God I am here to tell about it."
"As you can imagine, a large amount of chaos took place during this entire incident," Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said at a Friday press conference following the incident. "We believe at this point that there was a lone shooter, that he acted, at least right now, was the only person that was armed in this incident."
Ciancia was reportedly shot four times, including once in the mouth and in the leg. Authorities have not released any official updates on Ciancia’s condition, saying only that he is being treated for his injuries at a local area hospital.
A law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Cianci was carrying a one-page, handwritten note that described himself as a “pissed-off patriot” who wanted to kill TSA employees and “pigs” for allegedly violating his constitutional rights. In broader terms, the note is said to have contained conspiratorial accusations against the federal government and a new world order. The note also reportedly expressed anger at former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
"No words can explain the horror that we experienced today," TSA Administrator John Pistole said in a message to agency employees on Friday.
Ciancia’s friends and family say his actions on Friday did not make sense coming from the young man they knew. However, there were several warning signs in the days leading up to the attack.
Pennsville, N.J., Police Chief Allen Cummings said Ciancia contacted one of his siblings in recent days saying he was feeling suicidal. On Friday before the shooting, Ciancia’s father reached out to local police. Cummings said his department reached out to their counterparts in Los Angeles, who visited Ciancia’s home but were unable to make contact with him.
Ciancia was from New Jersey but had reportedly been living in Los Angeles for over a year. One of his roommates told a local television station that Ciancia appeared fine in recent days.
"He said he was going back to Jersey, going to work for his dad, and making amends with family problems ... and spending holidays with his family," James Mincey told KABC-TV.