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Pennsville Wonders Why Paul Ciancia Turned Violent

NEW JERSEY 101.5

The family of Los Angeles International Airport shooter Paul Ciancia along with the relatively quiet community of Pennsville continues to try and understand what led the 23-year old to kill a TSA agent and wound several others.

Paul Ciancia
Paul Ciancia (Facebook)

 

Pennsville Police Chief Alan Cummings
Pennsville Police Chief Alan Cummings (CBS Philly)

Ciancia remains hospitalized after being hit four times and wounded in the mouth and leg. The FBI said he was unresponsive and they had not been able to interview him.

However, just after the shooting on Friday, Ciancia told authorities at the scene that he acted alone and had been dropped off at the airport by a friend, a law enforcement official who has been briefed on the investigation said Sunday. Authorities do not believe the friend knew that Paul Ciancia, the man charged in the attack, planned to open fire inside LAX’s Terminal 3 just moments later,

Nothing he did while living in the Salem County community indicated any signs of violence.”Nobody really knew who he was,” resident Johnny Crawford told CBS News. “He was kind of like this mystery kid from this town.” Former classmates at the Salesianum School in Wilmington, Delaware tell the Courier-Post the same story. “I don’t really mean this in an insulting way, but he was one of those kids who just kind of floated around in the background,” Alex Osborne told the newspaper.

The Ciancia family is well known in the community as owners of Salem County Collision and a supporter of Little League baseball and the Fraternal Order of Police

Pennsville Police Chief Allen Cummings told CBS News the family is “confused. “They don’t know how it happened. They don’t know what caused it.”

Ciancia’a father, also named Paul, has not decided on flying out to Los Angeles to be with his son. The gunman’s mother died several years ago from multiple sclerosis and he seemed to be hit hard by her death according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Timeline Of Events

FBI Special Agent in Charge David Bowditch
FBI Special Agent in Charge David Bowditch (KTLA TV)

At a news conference Saturday announcing charges against Ciancia, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. spelled out a chilling chain of events at LAX that began when he strode into Terminal 3 Friday morning, pulled a Smith & Wesson .223-caliber assault rifle from his duffel bag and fired repeatedly at point-blank range at a TSA officer. The officer was checking IDs and boarding passes at the base of an escalator leading to the main screening area.

After shooting a TSA officer and going up an escalator, Ciancia turned back to see the officer move and returned to finish him off, according to surveillance video reviewed by investigators.

Investigators said Ciancia, an unemployed motorcycle mechanic, fired on at least two other uniformed TSA employees and an airline passenger, who were all wounded. Airport police eventually shot him as panicked passengers cowered in stores and restaurants.

The duffel bag also contained a handwritten letter signed by Ciancia stating he’d “made the conscious decision to try to kill” multiple TSA employees and that he wanted to “instill fear in their traitorous minds” said FBI Agent in Charge David L. Bowdich.

Federal prosecutors filed charges of first-degree murder of a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport. The charges could qualify him for the death penalty.

The FBI was still looking into Ciancia’s past, but investigators said they had not found evidence of previous crimes or any run-ins with the TSA. They said he had never applied for a job with the agency.

Authorities believe someone dropped Ciancia off at the airport. Agents were reviewing surveillance tapes to piece together the sequence of events. “We are really going to draw a picture of who this person was, his background, his history. That will help us explain why he chose to do what he did,” Bowdich said. “At this point, I don’t have the answer on that.”

The note found in the duffel bag suggested Ciancia was willing to kill almost any TSA officer.

“Black, white, yellow, brown, I don’t discriminate,” the note read, according to a paraphrase by a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

ravelers are screened byTransportation Security Administration agents after Terminal 3 was re-opened a day after a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport
ravelers are screened byTransportation Security Administration agents after Terminal 3 was re-opened a day after a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The screed also mentioned “fiat currency” and “NWO,” possible references to the New World Order, a conspiracy theory that foresees a totalitarian one-world government.

When searched, the suspect had five 30-round magazines, and his bag contained hundreds more rounds in boxes, the law-enforcement official said.

Terminal 3, the area where the shooting happened, reopened Saturday. Passengers who had abandoned luggage to escape Friday’s gunfire were allowed to return to collect their bags.

The TSA planned to review its security policies in the wake of the attack. Administrator John Pistole did not say if that would mean arming officers..

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The Associated Press contributed to this report

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