Who is Pennsville's Paul Ciancia and why did he decide to open fire on TSA agents at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday?

Stranded passengers return to Terminal 2 as normal operations slowly return after a shooting incident at Los Angeles International Airport (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Paul Ciancia (LAPD)

Ciancia is identified by police as the gunman who pulled an automatic rifle out of a bag  and began shooting, killing TSA agent Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39, and injured 5 others inside LAX's Terminal 3. Hernandez became the first TSA agent officer in the agency's 12-year history to be killed in the line of duty.

The 23-year-old remains hospitalized; his condition is unknown.

He entered the terminal carrying 150 rounds of ammunition and a grudge against "pigs" and TSA agents.

Airport police officers shot the gunman four times, including in the mouth and leg, during a shootout in front of a Burger King in the terminal.

Wanted To Kill TSA "Pigs"

Police outside Terminal 3 at Los Angeles Airport (KTLA)

A law enforcement official said the gunman was dressed in fatigues and carried at least five full 30-round magazines of ammunition. In his bag he had a one-page, handwritten note that said he wanted to kill TSA employees and "pigs."


The official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the note referred to how the gunman believed his constitutional rights were being violated by TSA searches and that he was a "pissed-off patriot" upset at former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Friends and family say prior to Friday he displayed no violent tendencies in his year-and-a-half living in Los Angeles "He was kind of a quiet guy, came in mostly by himself," Marc Kreiner, the owner of a restaurant frequented by Ciancia  told the Los Angeles Times.

A Troubling Text Message

Police and the FBI arrive at the Ciancia home in Pennsville (NBC Philadelphia)

On Friday, Ciancia's father in New Jersey had called authorities for help in finding his son after the young man sent one of his siblings a text message about committing suicide, Pennsville Police Chief Allen Cummings said.

The chief said he called Los Angeles police, who sent a patrol car to Ciancia's apartment. There, two roommates said that they hadn't seen him a day earlier and he had appeared to be fine.

"He said he was going back to Jersey, going to work for his dad, and making amends with family problems...and spending holidays with his family," former roommate James Mincey told KABC-TV.

Shock To The Community

Pennsville home of Paul Cianca's parents (WPVI TV)

The Ciancia family owns an auto body shop in Pennsville, described as a "good family" by neighbors. "Not in a million years would I ever believe anyone from that family... or even this town, nothing ever happens here," neighbor Joshua Pagan told NBC Philadelphia.

As the FBI and media gathered in front of their home on East Pittsfield Street, Cummings said he was trying to protect the family and "keep them safe and secure" as the media gathered outside their home. He told CBS Philadelphia “They are upset. This is a shock to them. This is a shock to our community, Pennsville."

It was equally shocking to neighbors in Sea Isle City where the family has a summer home according to NBC 40. "I’m shocked honestly. I couldn't believe someone could do that. Someone who lives right down the street. Its unbelievable the horror, the shock that can happen in this world,” neighbor, Joseph Torroni told the television station.

Paul had no prior dealings with police; he was a 2008 Salesianum School, an all-boys Roman Catholic school in Wilmington, Delaware. 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.




The Associated Press contributed to this report.