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Gunman targets TSA in Los Angeles airport shooting

By Tami Abdollah

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 1 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

"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," Mincey told KABC-TV.

Ciancia had been into a next-door restaurant called The Morrison several times, owner Marc Kreiner said.

"He was kind of a quiet guy, came in mostly by himself," Kreiner told the Los Angeles Times.

The attack at the nation's third-busiest airport began around 9:20 a.m. when the gunman pulled the assault-style rifle from a bag he had carried into the terminal, which serves such airlines as Virgin America, AirTran, Horizon Air and JetBlue.

Airport police were running after the gunman within seconds of the first shots being fired, Chief of Airport Police Patrick Gannon said.

The airport was locked down and its normally packed roads were emptied of cars. Across the U.S., aviation officials stopped LAX-bound flights from taking off from other airports, causing delays around the country. Some Los Angeles-bound flights that already were in the air were diverted elsewhere.

Throughout the day, an estimated 1,550 scheduled arriving and departing flights with around 167,000 passengers were affected, according to the airport. That included 86 arriving flights that were diverted to other airports.

After the first attack police, unsure whether the gunman acted alone, escorted travelers out of Terminal 3 as they searched for other possible shooters.

Pugh, who had fled onto the tarmac so quickly he had left his ID behind, was briefly handcuffed until it was determined he wasn't involved.

Rainer and her son were escorted to safety two terminals away, but they left behind their baggage, which included her son's oxygen and feeding tube machine.

Some travelers arriving for flights were held several miles away for hours. When the airport slowly began to reopen late in the afternoon, people by the thousands, many wheeling suitcases, walked down the middle of the four-lane ring road fronting the terminals.

Hernandez, the officer who was killed, was one of the TSA's behavioral detection officers who are stationed throughout the airport looking for suspicious behavior, said J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Friends and neighbors remembered the Los Angeles man as a doting father of two and a good neighbor who went door-to-door warning neighbors to be careful after his home in the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles was burglarized.

"It's devastating because he was such a great guy," Kevin Maxwell, a friend and former TSA co-worker at the airport, told KNBC-TV. "All he talked about was his family. He was very proud of his son, who played football."

He also had a daughter, Maxwell said.

"No words can explain the horror that we experienced today," TSA Administrator John Pistole said in a message to employees Friday.

Pistole said he planned to arrive in Los Angeles on Saturday to meet with Hernandez's family and the injured employees.

President Barack Obama called the head of the Transportation Security Administration to express his condolences to the families and friends of the dead and injured TSA officers.

In all, five people were taken to hospitals. They included Hernandez, Ciancia, the two wounded TSA officers, and a person who suffered a broken ankle during the chaos. A sixth person was treated at the scene for ringing in the ears from gunfire, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

Among the people evacuated from the airport, more than dozen were treated for minor injuries such as twisted ankles, exhaustion or stress.

It was not the first shooting at LAX. On July 4, 2002, a limousine driver opened fire at the airport's El Al ticket counter, killing an airline employee and a person who was dropping off a friend at the terminal. Police killed the man.

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Joan Lowy and Alicia Caldwell in Washington; Greg Risling, Christopher Weber, Alicia Chang, Alicia Rancilio, Gillian Flaccus and Michael R. Blood in Los Angeles; Josh Hoffner in Phoenix; and Michael Rubinkam in Pennsylvania.

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