The man suspected in a deadly shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport has been upgraded from critical to fair condition at an area hospital.
Officials at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center announced the upgraded condition on Tuesday, 11 days after the suspect — Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23 — allegedly opened fire inside the airport.
Transportation Security Administration Agent Gerardo I. Hernandez was killed and three other people — including two TSA officers — were wounded in the Nov. 1 attack inside the airport's Terminal 3. LAX police took Ciancia into custody about 10 minutes after the shooting began, authorities said, wounding the suspect in the head and leg during a gun battle.
Authorities allege that Ciancia targeted TSA workers in the attack, with the suspect writing in a signed note that he wanted to kill TSA agents and "instill fear in their traitorous minds."
Ciancia has been charged with the murder of a federal officer and the commission of violence at an airport. If convicted of the charges, he could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
His upgraded condition came the same day hundreds of law enforcement officers and public officials gathered at the L.A. Sports Arena to honor Hernandez. Federal officials — Atty. Gen. Eric Holder, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers and TSA Administrator John Pistole — spoke at the public ceremony, along with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and others who worked with Hernandez.
Hernandez, a married father of two, would have turned 40 last week, according to a statement read on behalf of his wife. Ana Hernandez called her husband "a great man who always showed his love for our family."
"I am devastated," she said in the statement. "We are all heartbroken and will miss him dearly."
Others who spoke also remembered Hernandez as a devoted family man who was dedicated to his job and always had a smile on his face.
Hernandez's death "marked him a man of bravery and of valor," Holder said. "But what truly made Officer Hernandez a hero was how he lived: with kindness, with consideration — and with love — for all who were fortunate to know him."
The attorney general also thanked the dozens of TSA officers in attendance for work he said has been "too often been unappreciated, overlooked or even discounted."
"My colleagues and I stand with this community not only in paying tribute to one of the best among us but working to prevent tragedies like this from happening ever again," Holder said.
"I also want to make a solemn pledge," he continued, "that we will not rest until justice has been done. And we will do everything in our power to ensure that those responsible for this senseless act can and will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law."
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