LA airport shooting suspect Paul Anthony Ciancia pleads not guilty

1:58 AM, Dec 27, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Suspect in LA airport shooting pleads not guilty

Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia. (CBS News)

 


 


(USA TODAY) The suspect in the Los Angeles airport shooting rampage last month that left a Transportation Security Administration screener dead and three others injured pleaded not guilty Thursday in a brief federal court hearing.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, is accused of 11 felony charges, including one of murder and three of attempted murder.

Trial was set for Feb. 11 in Los Angeles federal court. Ciancia could face the death penalty if convicted.

He entered his plea at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, where he has been held without bail since soon after his arrest.

Ciancia is recovering from wounds suffered when airport police shot him four times in the head and leg during the Nov. 1 rampage at Terminal 3. At Thursday's hearing, he had a bandage over his throat and spoke in a hoarse voice when he entered his plea.

Authorities say the unemployed motorcycle mechanic, who had recently moved to Los Angeles from Pennsville, N.J., arrived at the airport with the intention of killing TSA workers.

Ciancia had a documented hatred of TSA agents and allegedly targeted them during the attack, authorities said.

After entering the terminal, police say Ciancia pulled a semiautomatic rifle from a duffel bag and began spraying the area with gunfire as hundreds of people fled in terror.

TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez was killed. Two other uniformed TSA officers and a traveler were wounded.

STORY: TSA agent gunned down at LAX

The 39-year-old Hernandez, a behavior-detection officer tasked with spotting suspicious activity and identifying potential terrorists, became the first TSA officer to die in the line of duty. A coroner's report showed he was struck by a dozen bullets and had more than 40 bullet fragments in his body. Witnesses said the gunman returned to shoot Hernandez again after seeing him move.

After a gunfight, airport police arrested Ciancia at a Burger King in the food court.

An indictment accuses him of "substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person and to commit an act of terrorism."

Investigators said Ciancia's duffel bag contained a rambling letter detailing intentions to kill TSA officers and "instill fear in your traitorous minds." He apparently did not expect to survive what one law enforcement official said was "clearly a suicide mission."

Ciancia could be sentenced to life in prison or face execution if convicted. The Justice Department has not said whether it will seek the death penalty.

Contributing: Associated Press

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