LAX observes moment of silence on 3rd anniversary of TSA officer slaying

- A moment of silence was observed Tuesday in the terminals at Los Angeles International Airport to mark the third anniversary of the death of a TSA officer killed by a gunman who also wounded three others before being shot by police.

LAX officials and workers joined the Transportation Security Administration in the 9:20 a.m. silent salute to Officer Gerardo I. Hernandez, a married father of two.

"He will not be forgotten,'' tweeted Pat Gannon, deputy executive director, public safety and security at Los Angeles World Airports.

Travelers and TSA agents bowed their heads as a color guard carried a flag near the scene of the shooting, which took place at 9:20 a.m. Nov. 1, 2013.

On that morning, the killer walked into Terminal 3 at LAX and opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle while carrying dozens of rounds of ammunition, along with a signed handwritten note saying he wanted to kill TSA agents and "instill fear in your traitorous minds.''

Witnesses to the shooting said gunman Paul Ciancia asked them whether they worked for the TSA, and if they said no, he moved on.

The New Jersey native, an unemployed motorcycle mechanic who had been living in the Sun Valley area of Los Angeles for about 18 months, was shot in the neck and leg during a gun battle with airport police.

"Transportation Security Administration officers play an enormous role in ensuring the safety of the traveling public at airports across the United States, including here at LAX,'' said Deborah Flint, CEO of LAWA.

"We join with the TSA in paying tribute to Officer Hernandez for the work he performed so admirably here at LAX, and thank the scores of TSA officers who provide security at our nation's airports,'' she said. "We also
extend our appreciation to the offices of the Los Angeles Airport Police, who work diligently to make LAX safe.''

Ciancia, 26, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday. Federal prosecutors are asking that U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez impose a life sentence for the murder of Hernandez, plus an additional 60 years for shooting and wounding TSA Officers Tony Grigsby and James Speer, and teacher Brian Ludmer.

Ciancia "plotted to commit mass murder at one of the nation's foremost transportation hubs, murdered a beloved public servant in cold blood, seriously injured two other federal officers whom he shot and was attempting to kill, shot and injure a passenger who was traveling to attend a wedding, and terrified hundreds of other passengers and employees at LAX who feared for their lives and the safety of their families,'' according to a document filed last month by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in advance of Ciancia's Nov. 7 sentencing hearing.    

Ciancia pleaded guilty Sept. 6 to 11 felony counts of murder and other charges, the result of a plea agreement that will spare him the death penalty.

In a two-page, handwritten, signed letter, Ciancia wrote that he had "made a conscious decision to kill'' TSA agents that morning, Fitzgerald said.

After he shot Hernandez at a passenger ID checkpoint and the officer fell to the ground, Ciancia got on an escalator heading into the terminal. When he saw Hernandez still moving, Ciancia went back and shot the officer repeatedly, prosecutors said. Hernandez was shot a total of 12 times.

Moving back into the terminal, Ciancia shot Grigsby, Speer and Ludmer.

He continued into the terminal but was shot and wounded by police.

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