Gunman in deadly L.A. airport attack sentenced to life in prison

November 7, 2016 5:12 PM EST

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of the FBI. REUTERS/FBI/Handout via Reuters


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By Laith Agha

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The man who walked into a Los Angeles International Airport terminal and opened fire with an assault rifle in 2013, killing a security screener and wounding three other people, was sentenced on Monday to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Addressing the court before sentencing, Paul Anthony Ciancia, 26, said he had been contemplating suicide in the weeks before the shooting spree and decided to attack the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in a final, lethal fit of rage.

"I knew exactly how I was going to die. I was going to take up arms against my government," Ciancia told U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez in a Los Angeles courtroom.

Although he apologized for harm caused to Brian Ludmer, a school teacher wounded in the attack, Ciancia expressed no remorse for the slain TSA agent, Gerardo Hernandez, or either of the two other TSA officers who were hit by gunfire and survived.

Gutierrez sentenced Ciancia to life plus 60 years in prison. There is no parole in the federal prison system.

Gutierrez cited Ciancia's "mental state" as a factor in his crime, recommending that he undergo psychiatric evaluation and be placed in a facility equipped to treat inmates suffering from mental illness.

Prosecutors agreed to spare Ciancia the possibility of capital punishment when he pleaded guilty in September to murder of a federal officer and 10 other criminal counts.

In the attack at LAX, one of the world's busiest airports, Ciancia pulled a rifle from a bag and began shooting as he stormed through Terminal 3, sending panic-stricken travelers scrambling for cover. Ciancia himself was badly wounded in a gunfight with police before his arrest.

Hernandez was the first TSA officer to be killed in the line of duty.

The November 2013 shooting was the worst such incident at LAX since 2002, when an Egyptian-born gunman opened fire at the ticket counter of the Israeli airline, El Al, killing a flight attendant and a passenger before he was shot and killed.

The LAX shooting sparked a debate over the safety of unarmed TSA agents at U.S. airports and the efficacy of allowing passengers and members of the public to freely roam ticketing areas and other sections of terminals beyond secure zones where they must be screened.

Ciancia told the judge he singled out federal security officers because he had seen information on the internet describing TSA as the most hated government agency in the United States.

Earlier in the proceedings, as prosecutors recounted details of the attack, Ciancia leaned back in his chair, turned toward several police officers seated in the courtroom and smiled at them while nodding his shaven head.

He similarly leered at the two TSA agents wounded in the attack, James Speer and Tony Grigsby.

(Reporting by Laith Agha in Los Angeles; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Andrew Hay and Leslie Adler)



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