A Transportation Security Administration worker injured in the deadly shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport spoke to reporters for the first time Monday, saying his first thought was to help the passengers around him.
Tony Grigsby, 36, limped from the front door of his South L.A. home to a microphone stand, a brace on his right foot and cane in his right hand. He was flanked by his mother and grandmother as he spoke to reporters, with other family members nearby.
Grigsby, a behavior detection officer, said he joined the TSA in December 2004 “to protect people.” After gunfire erupted in LAX’s Terminal 3 early Friday, he said, he was helping an elderly man and was shot twice.
“I turned around and there was a gunman,” he said.
After he was shot, Grigsby said, people began asking him what was going on.
“All I could think about was helping them,” he said. “I may be injured right now, but the concern really is to take care of you.”
Grigsby was one of three TSA agents struck when a gunman carrying a Smith & Wesson .223-caliber M&P-15 assault rifle opened fire Friday morning at the nation’s third-busiest airport. One of those agents -- Gerardo I. Hernandez, a 39-year-old father of two -- died of the injuries. He was the first TSA agent slain in the line of the duty.
The shooting suspect, identified by authorities as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia, was shot by airport police and taken into custody. He remained in critical condition and under heavy guard Monday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Ciancia -- who authorities said wrote in a signed note that he wanted to kill TSA agents and “instill fear in their traitorous minds” -- was charged with murder of a federal officer and the commission of violence in an airport.
Grigsby said his slain colleague was “very, very dear to me.” The two last spoke about vacationing in Mexico, he said.
“Only now has it hit me that I will never see him again,” Grigsby said. He paused. “He was a wonderful person and a friend and I will miss him.”
Grisby said he was “feeling better” from his injuries.