Charles S. Clark | November 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

Shooter of Los Angeles TSA Officer Gets 60 Years

A Transportation Security Administration officer stands in front of a portrait of slain TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez during his public memorial at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in 2013. Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP file photo

The killer of the first Transportation Security Administration officer to die on the job was sentenced to 60 years for his deadly actions in 2013 at Los Angeles International Airport, the Justice Department announced this week.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 26, of Sun Valley, Calif., this September had pleaded guilty to one count of murder of a federal officer and other firearms-related charges stemming from his Nov. 1, 2013, attack on multiple TSA employees working at the airport’s security checkpoint.  He caused the death of TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez.

“Today, justice was done on behalf of fallen TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez, his wounded colleagues and all those who were terrorized by the wanton violence perpetrated by this defendant,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Nov. 7. “This sentence reflects appropriate punishment for a heinous crime. It ensures that the defendant can never again harm or murder innocent Americans. And it sends a clear message that the Department of Justice will not tolerate calculated attacks on our nation’s law enforcement officers, and that those who do commit such crimes will be held accountable.”

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Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson added, “We are grateful to the FBI and the Department of Justice for their hard work in obtaining justice for Mr. Hernandez, his family, co-workers and the men and women of DHS.”

The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez of the Central District of California. 

Ciancia admitted that he had purchased a semi-automatic rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition with 10 magazines, and  hid it in two suitcases sewn together. After killing Hernandez, he went upstairs among panicked passengers and TSA employees and fired his weapon at two TSA officers as well as a civilian, who all would require surgery. According to the plea agreement, “as Ciancia passed passengers hiding in or fleeing the terminal during the attack, he asked if they were TSA and when they said no, he passed without shooting at them.”

The tragedy prompted the American Federation of Government Employees to call for beefed-up protections of TSA employees and to abandon proposals to privatize passenger screening.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force led by the FBI, with agents and officers from 45 other local, state and federal agencies. Those agencies included the Federal Air Marshal Service; the Air Force Office of Special Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the U.S. Secret Service; the U.S. Marshals Service; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

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