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2013 Los Angeles International Airport shooting

On November 1, 2013, a shooting occurred at around 9:20 a.m. PDT in Terminal 3 of the Los Angeles International Airport. Paul Anthony Ciancia, aged 23, opened fire with a rifle, killing a U.S. government Transportation Security Administration officer and injuring several other people.

2013 Los Angeles International Airport shooting
LocationTerminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DateNovember 1, 2013 (2013-11-01)
c. 9:18 a.m. – 9:25 a.m.[1][2] (PDT)
Attack type
Weapons.223-caliber Smith & Wesson M&P-15[3]
Non-fatal injuries
7 (4 from gunfire, including the perpetrator)
PerpetratorPaul Anthony Ciancia



On the morning of Friday, November 1, 2013, Ciancia entered Terminal 3 of Los Angeles International Airport after being dropped off there by a roommate.[4] He was carrying a bag filled with a semiautomatic,[5] .223-caliber Smith & Wesson M&P-15 rifle, five 30-round magazines, and hundreds of additional rounds of ammunition contained in boxes.[2][6] Walking up to a TSA checkpoint, he pulled the rifle out of the bag and opened fire, shooting TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez in the chest at point-blank range. He then went up an escalator, but returned to the checkpoint and shot Hernandez again after seeing him move.[1][3][4]

Ciancia then moved up the escalator into the TSA screening area, passed the checkpoint area, and moved farther into the secure airside area of the terminal. At the time, many people fled by going into the concourse area or through doors leading into the airfield. Entering the concourse area, Ciancia continued firing, wounding two TSA agents and a passenger. People hiding in the concourse area then fled the terminal through street exits.[2][6] One witness, interviewed on CNN, said the gunman was walking, not running, down the terminal's concourse,[7] and actor Tim Daly reported hearing shooting while in the Virgin America first-class lounge.[8] According to several witnesses, Ciancia repeatedly asked passersby if they were TSA agents and then moved on without shooting when they said no.[4] At 9:20 a.m., the first calls to 9-1-1 were made, followed by the arrival of the first LAX officers two minutes later.[2]

Ciancia made it as far as the end of the terminal in the food court, where LAX police officers confronted him and shot him in a gunfight. He was wounded four times by gunshots and captured before being transported via ambulance to a nearby trauma hospital.[1][7] Witnesses saw a rifle with three magazines nearby on the floor of the waiting area near gates 35 and 36.[8] Police were unsure whether the terminal was safe for paramedics to enter, and as a result Hernandez lay wounded about 20 feet from an exit without medical attention for 33 minutes. He bled out from his gunshot wounds before being put in a wheelchair and escorted out of the terminal. He was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.[1]



The gunman shot TSA Officer Gerardo I. Hernandez, age 39, at the airport. Hernandez was pronounced dead after arriving at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center,[9][10] although coroner officials asserted that he was dead within a few minutes of getting shot.[11] Hernandez is the first TSA officer in the twelve-year history of the agency to have been killed on the job.[12][13] A behavior detection officer, Hernandez had immigrated to the United States from El Salvador at age 15.[14] According to an autopsy report, Hernandez was shot 12 times, with his heart being grazed several times and his bladder and intestines pierced. More than 40 bullet fragments were also lodged in his body, and he died within two to five minutes after being shot.[15]


Seven victims were treated at the scene. Three victims were wounded by gunfire, including two TSA officers, identified as 54-year-old James Speer and 36-year-old Tony Grigsby; Grigsby was shot in the foot. The third shooting victim was 29-year-old Brian Ludmer, a schoolteacher from Lake Forest, Illinois, who was shot in the leg.[4][6][16] Six victims were transported to area hospitals, including three men, two of whom had suffered gunshot wounds, who were treated at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Some of the injuries were confirmed to have been caused by other factors, not gunshot wounds.[17]

Ciancia was shot four times, including wounds in the head and leg,[18] by law enforcement in the food court area of Terminal 3 and was in critical condition.[19] The officers kicked the rifle away from him.[20] He was then transported to a local trauma hospital via ambulance. Video from KCAL-TV shows Ciancia brought into the hospital from an ambulance, surrounded by multiple police officers, while handcuffed to a gurney.[21][22]


Paul Anthony Ciancia, age 23 at the time of the shooting, perpetrated the attack.[23][24] An unemployed car mechanic, he lived in the Sun Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles and grew up in Pennsville, New Jersey.[25] In 2008, Ciancia graduated from Salesianum School.[26]

After the shooting ended, Ciancia was found to be carrying a note stating that he "wanted to kill TSA" and describing them as "pigs".[27] It also mentioned "fiat currency" and "NWO", the latter likely being a reference to the New World Order conspiracy theory.[6]

On the day of the shooting and before Ciancia was identified as the suspect, the LAPD went to his residence when concerned family members wanted to file a missing persons report after not having heard from him after repeated attempts to make contact. Ciancia was not at home at the time and his roommates told them that he had been there earlier in the day. The police left and could not file a report, because they had confirmation on where he was. Ciancia had talked about taking his own life a few days earlier.[27]

According to reports, on the day of the shooting, Ciancia burst into the room of an unidentified roommate and demanded him to drive him to the airport immediately, and the roommate, not sensing any intention of committing violence, agreed to do so. Days prior to the shooting, Ciancia had begun asking for a ride to the airport so he could fly back to New Jersey, claiming that his father was ill.[4]


Immediate reactionEdit

Los Angeles Airport Police evacuated several terminals and searched for any other possible suspects. They searched in cars with armed officers and a bomb-sniffing dog at the nearby parking garages that are connected to airport terminals by pedestrian bridges. The Federal Aviation Administration grounded all outbound flights at the airport. Runways 24L and 24R were shut down. Terminals 1, 2, and 3 were shut down and the 300 passengers were evacuated from these terminals to the Tom Bradley International Terminal for questioning, and then were re-screened as they exited the international terminal.[28] Airlines diverted some flights to other airports in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Most were directed to Ontario International Airport, and others to Long Beach Airport. Most of the diverted flights were originally scheduled to taxi to gates at Terminals 1, 2, and 3.[29][30] Over 1,500 flights and 171,000 passengers were affected by the incident.[2]

Later that afternoon, Ciancia's family released a statement, saying that they were "shocked and numbed" by his actions and also expressing their sympathies to the family of Gerardo Hernandez, and also to the wounded victims.[4]

Security and emergency responseEdit

In the wake of the shooting, ongoing debates over the effectiveness of airport security were reignited, with several suggestions being made about arming TSA officers with guns. In response to these suggestions, TSA Administrator John S. Pistole commented, "[Officer safety] is something we have dealt with really since the standup of TSA, knowing that in many respects TSA employees are the first line of defense when it comes to airport security particularly. And so given this tragedy, we will obviously look at and review our policies with airport police both here at LAX and of course around the country." Tom Ridge, the former secretary for the United States Department of Homeland Security, criticized the suggestion of arming TSA officers, calling it a "big mistake" and saying, "You have literally hundreds and hundreds of armed police officers roaming every major airport in America. And I don't think arming another 40 or 50 or 60 thousand people ... would have prevented this incident from happening."[31]

An investigation by several agencies has been opened to determine whether paramedics should have been allowed inside the terminal much earlier to aid Hernandez and the other wounded victims. The Los Angeles Police Department has also opened an investigation into an officer who allegedly improperly told emergency responders that Hernandez was dead when he was checked five minutes after the shooting ended.[15]

On January 22, 2014, it was revealed that the two unarmed officers assigned to the area had gone on a break at the time of the shooting, without carrying out the requirement of informing a dispatcher, with one being at the bathroom of an adjacent terminal. In response to the new details, airport police union chief Marshall McClain stated that the two officers were still capable of quickly responding to the shooting, adding, "I want to make sure that in any terminal, there's always somebody there, that a bathroom break doesn't result in somebody, even for a few minutes, being out of the action."[32]

On March 18, 2014, a released 83-page report highlighted flaws in various divisions and current systems of the airport, adding that emergency response had been hindered by "communication problems and poor coordination". The report also laid out an estimated 50 recommendations, including one for training airport police to be trained in tactical medicine and for training paramedics to enter more dangerous zones earlier with the protection of law enforcement. In addition, it was critical of the current airport emergency management program, saying that it was "not well-defined or widely understood across the agency, or perhaps even respected". It was also reported that at the time of the shooting, a union representing the airport's lower-level employees was not trained for an evacuation and did not know what to do or how to help passengers. Jeffrey David Cox, Sr., the president of the American Federation of Government Employees, called the lack of coordination "absolutely unacceptable" and criticized the report as being incomplete and failing to note the two airport officers who were not on their shifts at the time of the shooting.[33]

On June 6, 2014, Rep. Richard Hudson (R, NC-8) introduced the Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act of 2014 (H.R. 4802; 113th Congress) in response to the findings about events of the shooting.[34][35] The bill would direct the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through the Transportation Security Administration, to undertake a variety of activities aimed at enhancing security at airports where TSA performs oversees security-related activities.[36] The bill would require TSA to verify that all such airports have plans in place for responding to security threats and to provide technical assistance as necessary to improve such plans. H.R. 4802 also would require TSA to disseminate information on best practices for addressing security threats and ensure that all screening personnel have received training in how to handle potential shooting threats. Finally, H.R. 4802 would require the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Cybersecurity and Communications to report to the Congress on the capacity of law enforcement, fire, and medical response teams to communicate and respond to security threats at airports.[36] It passed in the House on July 22, 2014.[34]

Charges and prosecutionEdit

On November 2, 2013, federal prosecutors charged Ciancia with murder of a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport. Ciancia also faced additional federal and/or state charges, including attempted murder in relation to the two men who were wounded by gunfire.[37] On November 19, 2013, Ciancia was released from hospital after recovering from his gunshot wounds, and was taken into custody by agents from the United States Marshals Service (US Marshals).[38]

On December 5, 2013, Ciancia appeared for the first time in court, where he was remanded without bail because he posed a threat to the community.[39] On December 17, 2013, a federal grand jury indicted Ciancia on 11 counts, including first-degree murder. This raised the possibility that he could have received the death penalty if he was convicted.[40]

On December 26, 2013, Ciancia pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder.[41] On March 3, 2014, a judge ordered that Ciancia be moved from a treatment facility at a San Bernardino County jail to a federal detention facility in Los Angeles.[42][43] After initially being set for trial on February 11, 2014,[41] he appeared in court prior to his trial on August 11, 2014[43] and December 8, 2014.[44]

In January 2015, federal prosecutors decided they would seek the death penalty against Ciancia.[18][45][46] On January 5, 2015, it was announced that Ciancia's trial was projected to begin on February 23, 2016.[47]

On September 6, 2016, Ciancia pled guilty in exchange for a life sentence.[48] On November 7, 2016, Ciancia was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole plus 60 years.[49]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Abdollah, Tami (2013-11-15). "LAX shooting: TSA officer Hernandez bled for 33 minutes at scene - report". Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  2. ^ a b c d e "2013 LAX Shooting Report", Los Angeles Airport Police
  3. ^ a b "Deadly LAX shooting: Questions over positioning of airport police". CNN. 2013-11-02.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "LAX shooting: Latest on suspect, victims and warning that may have come too late". 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  5. ^ "S&W M&P-15 Product Website". Smith & Wesson. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d "LAX shooting suspect reportedly told police he acted alone". 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  7. ^ a b "Shooter opens fire at Los Angeles International Airport". NBC News. November 1, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "LAX passenger: Being kept in tunnel". CNN. 2013-11-02. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  9. ^ Bennett, Brian; Winton, Richard; Gold, Scott (November 1, 2013). "LAX shooting: Slain TSA agent identified as Gerardo I. Hernandez". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  10. ^ "TSA Agent Killed, 6 Injured In LAX Shooting". Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  11. ^ Richard Winton and Kate Mather (Los Angeles Times), November 20, 2013. TSA agent shot at Los Angeles airport died in two to five minutes.
  12. ^ "Shooting at Los Angeles airport". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  13. ^ Maritnez, Michael (November 1, 2013). "Suspect shot, in custody at LAX after TSA agent killed". CNN. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  14. ^ Mather, Kate; Stevens, Matt; Powers, Ashley (November 3, 2013). "Suspected LAX gunman had his targets clearly in mind". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Autopsy: Slain LAX officer Gerardo Hernandez was shot 12 times and had over 40 bullet fragments inside his body". London: 2013-11-23. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  16. ^ Abdollah, Tami (November 4, 2013). "LAX suspect remains heavily sedated, under guard". The San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  17. ^ "6 Hospitalized After LAX Shooting; Suspect in Custody". Archived from the original on November 6, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Decision on seeking death penalty for accused LAX shooter due by fall". Los Angeles Times. August 11, 2014.
  19. ^ "LAX gunman Paul Ciancia pictured with bullet wound to the face". Daily News. New York. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  20. ^ "LAX shooter was 'calm, pacing, scanning the crowd' during rampage". Los Angeles Times. November 2, 2013.
  21. ^ Winton, Richard; Bennett, Brian; Rubin, Joel; Serna, Joseph; Bloomkatz, Ari; Schaefer, Samantha; Mather, Kate; Stevens, Matt; Nelson, Laura J. (November 1, 2013). "LAX shooting: At least 3 shot; gunman in custody". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  22. ^ "Police: Suspect in custody; TSA agent shot, killed at LAX shooting". United Press International. November 1, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  23. ^ Matt Hamilton, LAX shooter's plea agreement reveals he did not consider himself a terrorist, but a 'patriot', Los Angeles Times (September 1, 2016).
  24. ^ Joel Rubin, LAX gunman who targeted TSA officers is sentenced to life in prison, Los Angeles Times (November 7, 2016).
  25. ^ "LAX Shooter Paul Anthony Ciancia's Personal Details Emerge". Mediaite. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  26. ^ Rubinkam, Michael; Matheson, Kathy (November 1, 2013). "NJ police: Dad called, worried about LAX suspect". The San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  27. ^ a b "LAX Shooting Suspect from South Jersey: Police". NBC News. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  28. ^ "Gunman opens fire at LAX, killing TSA worker and wounding others". NBC News. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  29. ^ "Some flights diverted to ONT after LAX shooting". Archived from the original on November 2, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  30. ^ Marquez, Liset (November 1, 2013). "Long Beach airport responds to incident at LAX". Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  31. ^ "LAX shooting reignites debate over TSA workers' role in security". 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  32. ^ "Ap: Lax Shooter Opened Fire While Officers On Break". 2014-01-22. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  33. ^ Tami Abdollah (2014-03-18). "Report details out-of-sync response to LAX shooter". Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  34. ^ a b Weikel, Dan (22 July 2014). "House passes bill to improve airport security in wake of LAX shooting". LA Times. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  35. ^ "H.R. 4802 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  36. ^ a b "CBO - H.R. 4802". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  37. ^ "SUSPECTED LAX GUNMAN CHARGED". Associated Press. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  38. ^ "LAX shooting suspect out of hospital, in marshals' custody". 2013-11-19. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  39. ^ "Accused LAX airport gunman Paul Ciancia denied bail, called danger to community: judge". New York: 2013-12-04. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  40. ^ "Federal grand jury indicts LAX shooting suspect". 2013-12-17. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  41. ^ a b "LA airport attack: Paul Ciancia pleads not guilty". BBC News. December 26, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  42. ^ Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator: Paul Anthony Ciancia, #67089-112. Retrieved June 15, 2014.
  43. ^ a b "Accused Los Angeles airport gunman to be moved to federal detention". Reuters. 2014-03-03. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  44. ^ Prosecutors Undecided On Seeking Death Penalty For Alleged LAX Shooter
  45. ^ Mather, K; Winton, R (Friday, January 2, 2015, 3:38PM PST). Prosecutors to seek death penalty in fatal LAX shooting. Los Angeles Times. Viewed January 2, 2015.
  46. ^ US Attorney's Office, via Los Angeles Times, LAX shooting: Notice of intent to seek death penalty. Viewed January 2, 2015.
  47. ^ "LAX Shooting Rampage Trial Slated for 2016". NBC Los Angeles. January 5, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  48. ^ Man who killed TSA officer at LAX in 2013 pleads guilty and avoids death penalty
  49. ^ Rubin, Joel (November 7, 2016). LAX gunman who targeted TSA officers is sentenced to life in prison (Los Angeles Times).