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FBI Names Gunman At Los Angeles Airport As 23-Year-Old Paul Anthony Ciancia

posted 2 Nov 2013, 04:55 by Mpelembe   [ updated 2 Nov 2013, 04:56 ]

FBI names the gunman who opened fire at Los Angeles airport and killed a security agent as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (HAND OUT/REUTERS) -  A lone gunman stormed into a packed terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport and opened fire with an assault weapon on Friday (November 1), killing an unarmed federal security agent before he was shot and captured, authorities said.

The gunfire in Terminal 3 touched off panic and chaos at one of the world's busiest airports as hundreds of travelers ran frantically for safety or dove for cover behind racks of luggage and loud alarms blared.

In addition to the Transportation Security Administration agent who was slain, at least one other was shot and wounded and a number of other people were hurt in the pandemonium. Nearly 750 flights were halted, grounded or diverted as police evacuated passengers and shut down three terminals. Streets around the airport were blocked off for hours, snarling traffic for miles.

Officials said the gunman, a U.S. citizen who appeared to be acting alone, pushed through the screening gates and ran more than 100 yards (91 meters) into the airport, where law enforcement officers caught up with him in a food court, shot him at least once and took him into custody.

Special Agent David Bowdich of the FBI identified the suspect as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia, a resident of the Los Angeles area, who was being treated for his injuries at a local hospital. There were no further details on his condition.

A photo of the suspect released by the FBI showed a young man with short, close-cropped dark hair and sideburns. In New Jersey, police and FBI agents descended on his family's home in Pennsville Township.

James Mincey live with Ciancia for a few months at the end of last year and he couldn't believe Ciancia could commit such an act.

"I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it because from knowing this guy I can't believe that he would... it just doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense, you know, and that's what shocks me is that I don't know," Mincey said.

Mincey said Ciancia lived on his couch for a few month and moved out in January or February of this year. He met Ciancia on Craigslist and said he never had issues with the New Jersey native. He said that Ciancia said he was in Los Angeles to take a break but that he was headed back to New Jersey for the holidays.

"Occasionally we would have lunch and that kind of stuff like that but this is, I saw him for the first time last week in months. We had lunch and he said he was going back to Jersey," Mincey said.

When asked about Ciancia's demeanor during the lunch last week, Mincey said Ciancia was his normal self.

"He was... nothing that I would think, what I would consider normal Paul, you know. He said he was going back to Jersey, going to work for his dad and making amends with family problems, like whatever, and spending the holidays with his family and that's all I know," Mincey said.

The slain TSA agent, identified as 39-year-old Gerardo Hernandez, was the first from the agency to die in the line of duty.

A U.S. official who asked not to be identified said that federal investigators were trying to determine if the gunman had been targeting TSA agents in the rampage.

The shooting was not the first such incident at the airport. In 2002, an Egyptian-born gunman opened fire at the ticket counter of Israeli airline El Al, killing a flight attendant and a passenger before he was shot and killed.

Los Angeles International Airport is the world's sixth busiest, handling over 63 million passengers in 2012, according to its official website.