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LAX shooting: TSA agent wasn't shot at checkpoint, official says

Monday, November 04, 2013
Los Angeles International Airport is seen in this undated file photo. Paul Ciancia, 23, is seen in this file photo. He is accused of opening fire at LAX Terminal 3, killing a TSA officer on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. Police tape is up at a Sun Valley apartment building Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, where alleged LAX shooter Paul Ciancia lived.

Officials on Monday said the TSA agent who was shot and killed at Los Angeles International Airport was not at the security checkpoint.

Airport officials clarified at an afternoon news conference that Gerardo Hernandez was fatally shot at the base of an escalator where he was checking people for boarding passes.

Arif Alikhan, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, said there had been reports that the shooter made it to the security checkpoint, but that is incorrect. Alikhan said Terminal 3 has three different levels and Hernandez was on the first floor. Gates for departures are on the third floor.

"That's important because a lot of what's been said about the police officer not being at the podium could have somehow prevented this horrific act from being committed, and in this particular case, that is simply not the case," said Alikhan.

Meantime, new details are coming to light about suspect Paul Ciancia. Police have confirmed that Ciancia lived in Sun Valley. According to the FBI, Ciancia, 23, lived in an apartment building in Sun Valley for some time. Ciancia has spent the majority of his life in New Jersey. He was also a student in the motorcycle technology program at Universal Technical Institute in Orlando, Fla. He graduated in 2011.

There were reports that Ciancia had lived in Glendale, but it was later clarified that Ciancia was simply sleeping at a friend's home for about a week's time.

During a news conference Monday in Pennsville, N.J., representatives for Ciancia's family read a statement that expressed shock and sadness.

"We, like most Americans, are shocked and numbed by the tragic events of last Friday. We acknowledge the need to understand what happened, and why it happened," said attorney John Jordan.

In the statement, the family also apologized to the family of the slain TSA agent, and to those who were wounded. The family said they have fully cooperated with authorities and is asking for privacy.

Authorities say Ciancia was dropped off Friday at the airport by a roommate who knew nothing about what he had planned. Hernandez, 39, was killed in the shooting. James Speer, 54, and Tony Grigsby, 36, also TSA agents, were wounded and have been released from the hospital. Calabasas High School teacher Brian Ludmer, 29, remains hospitalized in good condition. He was expected to undergo his second surgery Monday.

Airport police shot Ciancia, who remains hospitalized under 24-hour guard at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. According to court documents, Ciancia is "being treated at a hospital for gunshot wounds, including being shot in the face." He is said to be unconscious and unable to communicate.

Ciancia's roommate would not answer questions from Eyewitness News on Monday. Neighbors said about 50 federal agents swept the entire Sun Valley apartment building Friday. One neighbor said Ciancia was fairly new to the community.

"He had just moved here," said Rebeka Laruseau. "That apartment is like a revolving door, people come and go all the time."

A woman who says she is an acquaintance of Ciancia and his roommates is speaking out. She did not want to be identified.

"That morning, he doesn't knock, he just opens up the door and says, 'I need to leave, can you take me now?'" the woman said. She also said police went to do a welfare check on Ciancia because they heard he was suicidal.

She also described the moment his roommates realized Ciancia was wanted for the shooting.

"At that moment that they're seeing this on the TV, their third roommate comes back. He said, 'Oh, I just dropped off Paul at LAX, he had to go home.' And at that moment, they just knew," the woman said.

The roommate who dropped off Ciancia gave authorities permission to search his car. That's where investigators found Ciancia's cellphone. They will look through the phone for clues.

The FBI is still trying to figure out what motivated Ciancia in the shooting. Investigators have spoken with authorities at Ciancia's trade school in Florida, but so far have no solid clues.

Law enforcement sources tell ABC News that the suspect called himself a "pissed-off patriot" in a note he wrote before going on the rampage. In the note, the suspect said TSA is violating people's Constitutional rights with all the searches they do.

According to ABC News, a federal judge has ordered that a public defender be provisionally appointed to represent Ciancia, despite arguments by prosecutors to make a "public safety exception" to question him about possible co-conspirators.

Anyone with information, photos or videos of the shooting at LAX is asked to call the FBI Los Angeles tip line at (888) 226-8443 or visit laxshootingtips.fbi.gov .

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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arrest, shooting, los angeles international airport, los angeles news
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