Police and emergency vehicles made a slow two laps around Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday to honor the TSA agent slain in a shooting rampage there just five days before.
The motorcade honoring Gerardo I. Hernandez -- a 39-year-old father of two who became the first Transportation Security Administration agent slain in the line of duty -- was part of a brief ceremony marking the arrival of a special U.S. flag expected to be used at his funeral.
Originally taken from Texas to New York after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. Honor Flag has appeared at funerals of public safety officers across the country.
An honor guard and bagpipers escorted the flag to the curb outside Terminal 4, where it was placed inside a police patrol car near the front of the motorcade. The motorcade then looped the top level of the airport -- TSA agents lining the curb -- before heading down to the lower level.
TSA employees and airports across the country will observe a moment of silence this Friday at 9:20 a.m. -- the same time of last week’s shooting -- to honor Hernandez and his family. TSA checkpoint operations will briefly pause to observe the moment of silence
Hernandez was fatally wounded after a gunman opened fire in LAX’s Terminal 3 last Friday. The shooting suspect, identified as Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, apparently targeted TSA workers as he moved through a security checkpoint into the airport itself, authorities said.
Ciancia wrote in a signed note that he wanted to kill TSA agents and “instill fear in their traitorous minds,” authorities said.
Ciancia, who was wounded by airport police as he was taken into custody, remained hospitalized Wednesday. Federal prosecutors have charged him with the murder of a federal officer in Hernandez’s death, along with the commission of violence at an airport.
On Saturday, Hernandez’s wife told reporters she was “truly devastated” by her husband’s death. TSA Administrator John Pistole, who also appeared outside the Hernandez home, called the incident “a senseless tragedy.”
Tony Grigsby, 36 -- one of two other TSA agents wounded in the shooting -- told reporters his slain colleague was “very, very dear to me.”
“Only now has it hit me that I will never see him again,” Grigsby said outside his South L.A. home on Monday. He paused. “He was a wonderful person and a friend and I will miss him.”