On Friday, a gunman armed with a semiautomatic rifle shot several people at Los Angeles International Airport, killing a Transportation Security Administration officer. The suspect was shot by police and remains hospitalized and under guard. Authorities have identified the suspect as Paul Ciancia, 23. They say a note he was carrying in his bag suggests he held anti-government views and wanted to kill TSA agents. The officer who died was Gerardo I. Hernandez, the agency’s first officer to die in the line of duty.
Another victim, a high school teacher, is recovering: Hospital officials listed Brian Ludmer as being in good condition, although he will still require additional surgery and physical therapy after his narrow escape last week:
Brian Ludmer, 29, was on his way Friday to celebrate a friend’s wedding over the weekend when he heard gunshots inside Terminal 3 and “people were running everywhere,” Las Virgenes schools Supt. Dan Stepenosky said in an interview.
As the gunman took aim, Ludmer turned to run and dived away, but was struck at least once in the leg, Stepenosky said. Ludmer dragged himself into a closet, closed the door and hunkered down, fearing the worst.
“He really assumed he was not going to make it,” Stepenosky said.
The performing arts teacher managed to create a makeshift tourniquet to help slow the bleeding, using “his old Boy Scouts training,” Stepenosky told NBC Los Angeles.
Ludmer waited until he heard what he believed was a police officer outside the closet. He cracked open the door, peeked out and was rushed by the officer into a waiting ambulance.
Ciancia’s family was concerned about him and notified police, but officers dispatched to Ciancia’s apartment just missed intercepting him, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) told reporters:
Officers arrived at the 23-year-old man’s apartment about 45 minutes after he asked his roommate to drive him to the airport, said McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Ciancia’s father, who lives in Pennsville, N.J., first called his local police chief, Allen Cummings, at about 1:30 p.m. Eastern time Friday. Cummings called the Los Angeles police to ask them to send officers to Ciancia’s apartment.
Just as officers were checking on Ciancia, they started to get reports of gunfire at the airport.
“Unfortunately, (they) missed the suspect by a matter of minutes,” said McCaul.
Officials believe the roommate who drove Ciancia to the airport never knew of the gunman’s plans to open fire on Transportation Security Administration officers at LAX.
Ciancia has been charged with the murder of a federal officer as well as an act of violence at an international airport.