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Alleged LAX gunman could face death penalty

Crime, Law and JusticeCrimeShootingsHomicideTransportation Security AdministrationJustice SystemLos Angeles International Airport

The alleged gunman behind the fatal shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport could face the death penalty.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on 11 felony counts, including murder and attempted murder, prosecutors announced.

Each of the charges related to the death of Transportation Security Administration Officer Gerardo I. Hernandez carries the possibility of the death penalty or life in federal prison, the U.S. attorney's office said. Federal prosecutors have not yet decided whether they will seek the death penalty should Ciancia be convicted.

Ciancia, a New Jersey native living in Sun Valley at the time, faces two additional counts related to Hernandez's death: knowingly using a semiautomatic rifle to murder and cause death, and committing violence at an international airport that resulted in death.

Ciancia was also charged with the attempted murder of TSA officers Tony Grigsby and James Speer, who were wounded in the Nov. 1 attack.

He faces three counts that he did "knowingly carry, brandish, discharge and use a firearm" when he allegedly shot Grigsby, Speer and Brian Ludmer, a Calabasas teacher who was also wounded. The final three counts are related to allegations that Ciancia used the Smith & Wesson M&P-15 to commit acts of violence at an international airport.

The 15-page indictment also alleges that Ciancia “committed the offense after substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person and to commit an act of terrorism.”

Ciancia allegedly targeted TSA workers in the attack and had written in a signed note that he wanted to kill TSA agents and "instill fear in their traitorous minds," authorities said. Witnesses to the shooting said the gunman asked whether they worked for TSA before moving on.

Ciancia was shot in the head and leg during a gun battle with airport police. He spent more than two weeks at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center before he was released into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

A judge denied bail on Dec. 4. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday's indictment Dec. 26.

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kate.mather@latimes.com

 

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