A Transportation Security Administration officer killed at Los Angeles International Airport during a rampage three weeks ago was shot 12 times, with bullets piercing organs, grazing his heart and severing a major artery, according to a final autopsy report released Friday.
Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39, died within two to five minutes of the attack inside Terminal 3. The gunman, identified by authorities as Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, targeted TSA agents during the Nov. 1 shooting, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said this week.
Hernandez, a married father of two from Porter Ranch, was shot through his right arm, torso, waist, hip, back, buttock and groin by the gunman’s semiautomatic rifle, according to the 22-page autopsy report. Many of the shots were fired into the back of the unarmed agent, who became the first TSA officer to be killed in the line of duty.
Authorities say Ciancia entered the terminal about 9:30 a.m., pulled his rifle out of a bag and fired at Hernandez. The gunman then walked up an escalator, then returned to shoot Hernandez again, U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte has said.
The coroner’s report described extensive injuries as bullets careened and sliced through many of Hernandez’s vital internal organs, grazing his heart and a lung and perforating his bladder and severely damaging one of his kidneys. Hernandez, the autopsy noted, suffered “a complete transection of the abdominal aorta distal to superior mesenteric artery” and extensive damage to his spinal cord.
Hernandez suffered 16 wounds to his gastrointestinal tract. Many of the rounds lodged is his body, the report noted. Medical examiners recovered 40 bullet fragments, which were given to the FBI as evidence, the report said.
He would be officially declared dead at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center more than 90 minutes after the shooting that plunged LAX into chaos and sent passengers scrambling from the terminal for safety. Two other TSA officers were wounded along with a schoolteacher before Ciancia was shot and wounded in a gun battle with two airport police officers about five minutes after Hernandez was cut down.
In Ciancia’s possession, FBI agents recovered a Smith & Wesson .223-caliber rifle and notes expressing his hatred for the TSA and the government in general. Ciancia was released Monday from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Ciancia faces charges of murder of a federal officer and committing a violent act at an international airport. If convicted, Ciancia, a New Jersey native living in Los Angeles, could face life in prison or the death penalty.