LAX Shooter Admits Murdering TSA Agent

     LOS ANGELES (CN) — A man who shot and killed a Transportation Security Administration agent and wounded three others during a 2013 rampage at Los Angeles International Airport pleaded guilty Tuesday to murder and attempted murder.
     U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez asked Paul Anthony Ciancia, 26, at an afternoon hearing if he was pleading guilty to all the facts alleged in the government’s indictment.
     “Yes,” Ciancia, who spoke with a slight speech impediment, said.
     Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty, Gutierrez asked.
     “Yes,” Ciancia said.
     The plea came at the end of an emotional few minutes in which federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald recounted the events of Nov. 1, 2013, when Ciancia caused a panic after he shot and killed TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez during a shooting spree.
     Friends and family members of the victims wiped tears from their eyes as Fitzgerald outlined the government’s case against the defendant, who appeared in court wearing a white prison uniform and glasses with his hair shaved close to his head.
     Tony Leroy Grigsby, a TSA agent who was wounded during the attack, watched from the front row while his mother and sister — wearing TSA uniforms — sat behind him, stifling tears. Another officer wounded in the attack, James Maurice Speer, was also present.
     Under the plea agreement, Ciancia faces life in prison on several counts including murder of a federal officer, attempted murder of a federal officer, violence at an international airport, and other firearm charges.
     The then 23-year-old used a Smith & Wesson semiautomatic rifle during the rampage, according to the government’s Sept. 1 plea agreement. After he wounded Hernandez, Ciancia made his way up an escalator to a TSA security checkpoint but turned around when he noticed Hernandez moving. He walked back down the up escalator and fired at point-blank range, killing the agent.
     Ciancia then proceeded to the TSA checkpoint, reloaded his rifle with a fresh magazine and shot Speer in the left shoulder and Grigsby in his right ankle, “shattering his tibia and fibula,” the plea agreement states. Ciancia also shot passenger Brian Ludmer in his right calf.
     All three men had to undergo surgeries to treat their wounds.
     In preparation for the attack, Ciancia had cut twin rectangular holes in his luggage to hide the rifle.
     After the shooting spree, investigators found a handwritten and signed note in which Ciancia signaled his intent to attack TSA agents.
     “If you made the conscious decision to put on a TSA costume and violate peoples’ rights this morning, I made the conscious decision to try to kill you this morning,” the note stated. “If I managed to take just one TSA shithead with me, my mission was accomplished. If I take two or more pigs’ lives before you kill me, I’ll be thrilled.”
     Ciancia signed the note “Paul Ciancia, Pissed-off Patriot.”
     He also sent text messages to his brother and sister before the attack. Though he did not specify his plans he indicated that he expected to leave “prematurely.”
     Ciancia, who was hospitalized after he was shot by law enforcement, was charged by a federal grand jury in 2013 with 11 felony offenses.
     Under the plea agreement, signed by Ciancia on Aug. 30, 2016, the government is not seeking the death penalty. He returns to the Edward Roybal Courthouse for sentencing on Nov. 7.

%d bloggers like this: