Crime & Justice

LAX shooting: Federal prosecutors to seek death penalty against Ciancia

This courtroom drawing shows Paul Ciancia during an appearance at the West Valley Detention Center wearing a bandage on his neck and with bruises on his face on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. On Friday, January 2, 2014, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.
This courtroom drawing shows Paul Ciancia during an appearance at the West Valley Detention Center wearing a bandage on his neck and with bruises on his face on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. On Friday, January 2, 2014, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.
Bill Robles/AP
This courtroom drawing shows Paul Ciancia during an appearance at the West Valley Detention Center wearing a bandage on his neck and with bruises on his face on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. On Friday, January 2, 2014, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.
The FBI released this mugshot of Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23 — a resident of Los Angeles formerly from New Jersey — whom they identified as the suspect in the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport Friday morning, Nov. 1, 2013, that killed a Transportation Security Administration officer and injured several others.
FBI
This courtroom drawing shows Paul Ciancia during an appearance at the West Valley Detention Center wearing a bandage on his neck and with bruises on his face on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. On Friday, January 2, 2014, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.
This June, 2013 photo released by the Hernandez family Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, shows Transportation Security Administration officer Gerardo Hernandez. Hernandez, 39, was shot to death and several others wounded by a gunman who went on a shooting rampage in Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport.
AP Photo/Courtesy of Hernandez Family
This courtroom drawing shows Paul Ciancia during an appearance at the West Valley Detention Center wearing a bandage on his neck and with bruises on his face on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. On Friday, January 2, 2014, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.
TSA agent Ericson Salvador, who works in LAX's terminal one, enters a public memorial on Tuesday for Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Hernandez was the first-ever TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty, after the shooting at LAX.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
This courtroom drawing shows Paul Ciancia during an appearance at the West Valley Detention Center wearing a bandage on his neck and with bruises on his face on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. On Friday, January 2, 2014, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.
Wounded TSA agent Tony Grigsby speaks to reporters about his experience during the shooting at LAX on Monday, November 4, 2013.
Jed Kim/ KPCC


Listen to story

00:49
Download this story 0MB

Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the man charged in a deadly shooting rampage in 2013 at Los Angeles International Airport, according to a court document filed Friday.

Prosecutors allege Paul Ciancia acted intentionally in the killing of a Transportation Security Administration screening officer and terrorized passengers and colleagues of the fallen man.

"Ciancia acted with the intent that his crimes would strike fear in the hearts of Transportation Security Administration employees and dissuade them from fulfillment of their duties," Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wrote in court papers.

Ciancia, 24, who is being represented by the federal public defender's office, has pleaded not guilty to 11 federal charges including the murder of Gerardo Hernandez, 39. He faces attempted murder charges for wounding of two other TSA officers and an airline passenger when he allegedly opened fire inside Terminal 3 at LAX on Nov. 1, 2013.

"By committing his crimes on a weekday morning in a crowded terminal at one of the busiest airports in the world," prosecutors wrote, "Ciancia terrorized numerous airline passengers and airport employees by causing them to fear for their lives and experience extreme emotional distress."

The decision to seek the death penalty was made by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles said they sent the Justice Department recommendation materials in early November.

The New Jersey native was due in court Monday for a hearing on the status of his case. He is being held at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles.

L.A. airport police shot Ciancia at least once in the face. He spent several weeks in a prison hospital recovering from the shooting but seemed better last month when he appeared in court for a hearing.

The shooting caused chaos and terror as security screeners fled their posts among a hail of bullets and passengers ran for cover. The airport was crippled for most of the day and flights across the country were interrupted.

Although officers quickly shot Ciancia and arrested him, it took hours for officers to search the rest of the airport and determine there were no additional gunmen. The response by the police and security at the airport came under scrutiny after the shooting.

No trial date has been set but it was to be discussed at Monday's court hearing, as well as the decision to seek the death penalty.