LOS ANGELES (AP) — The suspect accused of opening fire inside the Los Angeles airport left a note in which he allegedly wrote that he wanted to kill at least one TSA officer and didn’t care which one, authorities said Saturday.
It’s not clear why Paul Anthony Ciancia targeted the Transportation Security Administration. However, the note found in his duffel bag reportedly suggested the 23-year-old unemployed motorcycle mechanic was willing to kill almost any officer he could confront with his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
“Black, white, yellow, brown, I don’t discriminate,” the note read, according to a paraphrase by a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
The suspect’s screed also mentioned “fiat currency” and “NWO,” possible references to the New World Order, a conspiracy theory that foresees a totalitarian one-world government.
By all accounts, Ciancia was reserved and solitary. Former classmates barely remember him and even a recent roommate could say little about the young man who moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles less than two years ago.
Ciancia, who was shot four times by airport police, remained hospitalized Saturday, but there was no word on his condition. He was wounded in the mouth and the leg, authorities said.
Ciancia’s father called police in New Jersey, worried about his son. The young man had sent texts to his family that suggested he might be in trouble, at one point even saying goodbye.
The call came too late. Ten minutes earlier, police allege that he had walked into the airport, pulled the rifle from his bag and began firing at TSA officers. When the shooting stopped, one officer was dead and five other people were wounded, including two more TSA workers and the gunman himself.
When searched by police, Ciancia allegedly had five 30-round magazines, and the bag contained “hundreds of rounds in 20-round boxes,” the law-enforcement official said.
Authorities identified the dead TSA officer as Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39, the first TSA official in the agency’s 12-year history to be killed in the line of duty.
Allen Cummings, police chief in Pennsville, a small blue-collar town near the Delaware River where Ciancia grew up, said he’s known Ciancia’s father — also named Paul — for more than 20 years.
He said the father called him around midday Friday to tell him about texts his family had received from his son.
“There was some things in there that made his family feel he may do harm to himself,” Cummings said. He did not mention suicide or hurting others.
Cummings said the father also heard from a friend that his son may have had a gun.
The chief said he called Los Angeles police, who sent a patrol car to Ciancia’s apartment. There, two roommates said that they had seen him a day earlier and he had appeared to be fine.
By that time, shots were already breaking out at the airport.
“There’s nothing we could do to stop him,” Cummings said.
The police chief said he never met Paul Ciancia Jr., but that he learned from his father that he attended a technical school in Florida, then moved to LA in 2012 hoping to get a job as a motorcycle mechanic. But he was having trouble finding work.
“I’ve never dealt with the kids,” the chief said. “They were never on the police blotter, nothing like that.”
Ciancia graduated in December 2011 from Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando, Fla., said Tina Miller, a spokeswoman for Universal Technical Institute, the Scottsdale, Ariz., company that runs the school.
A basic motorcycle mechanic course takes about a year, she said.
After arriving in LA, Ciancia stayed on the couch of an acquaintance at the Rancho Los Feliz Apartment Homes for two weeks, said apartment manager David Plaxen. Ciancia was never on a lease.
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