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LAX shooting suspect critical, hindering investigation, official says

Crime, Law and JusticeShootingsCrimePaul CianciaTransportation Security AdministrationLos Angeles International AirportFirearms

The man suspected of opening fire at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, killing a TSA agent, was shot in the leg and head, making it difficult for authorities to gather information, a law enforcement official told The Times.

The suspected shooter, identified by police as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia, was hospitalized in critical condition. He was wounded by an LAX police officer and sergeant as he shot his way through Terminal 3 shortly after 9 a.m., authorities said.

KCAL-TV footage appeared to show the bloodied gunman handcuffed to a gurney as he was wheeled out of the terminal. He remained in critical condition at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center as of 8 a.m. Saturday.

The incident Friday began, police say, when Ciancia entered Terminal 3 through the main door, pulled an AR-15 assault rifle out of a bag and "began to open fire."

He then walked up a flight of stairs to the entrance of the security checkpoint, where at least three Transportation Security Administration officers were shot, officials said. One of them, Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39, was killed.

Authorities said Ciancia then entered the airport itself, walking past a candy shop, a newsstand and a bookstore.

The airport police officer and sergeant engaged Ciancia in a brief gunfight near a food court, officials said.

“They hit him multiple times before he went down,” one law enforcement source said. A witness said the gunman was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Authorities on Saturday were trying to figure out the motive for the attack.

A law enforcement official told The Times that a note was found on the suspected gunman expressing “disappointment in the government” and saying that he had no interest in hurting “innocent people.”

People in Pennsville Township, N.J., Ciancia's hometown, remembered him as a quiet teenager who by some accounts was bullied in high school.

A law enforcement official told The Times that investigators were looking into the possibility that Ciancia “wasn’t a fan of the TSA.”

In a statement issued hours after the shooting, TSA Administrator John S. Pistole said no words could explain "the horror that we experienced" when Hernandez became the first TSA officer to be killed in the line of duty.

Terminal 3 remained mostly closed Saturday as the FBI continued to investigate the scene, LAX officials reported. Only the ticket counters were open as passengers awaited word on when they might be able to retrieve luggage and other personal items left behind during the rush to evacuate.

LAX officials said Saturday morning on Twitter that there was no timeline for when access would be granted by the FBI.

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