LAX shooting: Public is not ready for beefed up security, Beck says

Los Angeles Airport officer Daniel Keene, left, police dog Axa and officer Fritz Corros stand at a checkpoint outside Los Angeles International Airport.
(Nick Ut / Associated Press)

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday that he believes the American public is not ready to accept the level of airport security that would be needed to prevent another attack like last week’s deadly shooting at LAX.

“We can search every car like a military checkpoint at gunpoint and make it impossible for [a shooting] to happen,” Beck said. “But it would take days to get into LAX, and people are not ready for that.”

“Neither am I,” he added.

On Friday, a Transportation Security Administration agent was killed and at least three other people were wounded when a gunman identified by police as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia opened fire at the entrance to a Los Angeles International Airport security checkpoint.

The incident, which shut down the airport for hours, has sparked a nationwide debate about airport security. Some have called for armed police to be stationed at every security checkpoint while others have argued that TSA officers, who screen luggage and passengers for bombs and weapons, should carry guns.

Beck, speaking with reporters following Tuesday’s Police Commission meeting, said most people aren’t prepared for the “intrusive security” that would be required to prevent an attack.


He said he was satisfied with his department’s response on Friday, including to a call for a welfare check on Ciancia that came in after the shooting started, at 9:20 a.m.

According to Beck, Ciancia’s brother-in-law, who lives in New Jersey, called the LAPD with concerns about Ciancia’s “suicidal nature” at 10:06 a.m. Officers were dispatched to Ciancia’s Los Feliz apartment and arrived about 20 minutes later.

Beck said officers spoke with Ciancia’s roommates, who said they didn’t know the man’s whereabouts. It took about an hour for police officials to make the connection between the help call and the shooting at LAX, Beck said.

“We responded in a timely fashion,” he said. “But unfortunately the information came to us too late.”

Ciancia, who was shot by airport police and remains in critical condition, harbored anti-government feelings, police say. A suicide note found in one of his bags said he wanted to “kill TSA.”


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Twitter: @joelrubin @katelinthicum