A man accused of opening fire at Los Angeles international airport, killing a security agent and wounding seven other people, pleaded not guilty in a California court Thursday.
Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, is accused of pulling an assault weapon out of a duffel bag and opening fire on Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers in Terminal 3 of the busy airport on November 1.
Gerardo Hernandez, a 39-year-old father of two, was the first TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty since the body was set up after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Two other TSA officers were among the wounded.
The shooting triggered panic as hundreds of passengers fled for their lives and disrupted flights at the major US air hub for many hours.
Ciancia could face a death sentence if convicted of murder and other charges, which include attempted murder and committing acts of violence at an international airport.
Prosecutors say they have not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty.
After the attack, officers found a note signed by Ciancia saying he wanted to kill TSA agents and “instill fear in their traitorous minds,” authorities said. Witnesses said the gunman asked them if they worked for the TSA, and if they said no, he moved on.
Ciancia was seriously injured in a police shootout that ended the rampage, and spent several days in critical condition in the hospital before being transferred to police custody.
[Image via KABC-TV]