U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder called the shooting death of a Transportation Security Administration agent at Los Angeles International Airport a “profound sacrifice” at a public memorial Tuesday, and vowed to “not rest until justice has been done.”
Holder was the final speaker at the ceremony at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, where scores of law enforcement and public officials gathered to honor Gerardo I. Hernandez, who became the first TSA agent killed in the line of duty during the Nov. 1 rampage. Hernandez’s family and friends were also in attendance, along with two other TSA agents wounded in the attack.
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.”
Holder 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.”
“I also want to make a solemn pledge,” Holder 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.”
The alleged gunman in the attack — Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23 — has been charged with the murder of a federal officer and commission of violence at an airport. He remained hospitalized in critical condition as of Monday, as he was wounded in a gun battle with LAX police before he was taken into custody.
Authorities allege Ciancia targeted TSA workers in the attack, writing in a signed note that he wanted to kill TSA agents and “instill fear in their traitorous minds.”
Hernandez, a married father of two, would have turned 40 last week, according to those who spoke at the memorial Tuesday. Many of his colleagues and others remembered him as a devoted family man who was dedicated to his job and always had a smile on his face.
In a statement read to the audience, his wife, Ana Hernandez, said her husband “was 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.”
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers also spoke, along with TSA Administrator John Pistole and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Many who worked with Hernandez at LAX’s Terminal 3 sat in the audience, with a few approaching the podium to speak.
Hernandez was a team player who always looked out for his co-workers, said Danielle Arocho, a TSA supervisory officer at LAX.
“On that day, he protected more than the traveling public,” she said. “He protected his team.”
She paused. “And for that, he is our hero.”