EDITORIAL: Alleged LAX Gunman And Conspiracy Theorist Paul Anthony Ciancia Becomes Author Of One Of History’s Unwanted Footnotes
UPDATED 11:04 A.M. ET (NOV. 4, U.S.A.) Gerardo I. Hernandez, a 39-year-old Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer described as a loving husband and father and dutiful employee, gave his life for his country Friday. In an awful and unwanted footnote, he became the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty.
Officer Hernandez thus indelibly became linked in history to figures such as Edwin C. Shanahan, the first FBI agent to die in the line of duty (1925), and William Craig, the first member of the U.S. Secret Service killed while doing his job (1902). Shanahan was murdered by a car thief wielding an automatic pistol. Craig died in a horrific collision between a streetcar and carriage while protecting President Theodore Roosevelt. Like El Salvador-born Hernandez, Craig was not born in the United States. He was born in Scotland.
A full fact set has not yet emerged in the death of Hernandez. What is clear is that Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, was arrested after being shot by police Friday at Los Angeles International Airport. He initially was identified by the FBI as the suspect in a shooting death and the wounding of others at the airport. On Saturday, he was charged with Murder of a Federal Officer and Violence at International Airports.
Ciancia used a “.223 caliber M&P 15 assault rife” he’d pulled from his bag at the TSA checkpoint inside Terminal 3, the FBI said in an affidavit filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Less clear is Ciancia’s full motive for making war against officers of his own country. Clues, however, are beginning to emerge.
TSA officers flatly needed to die, according to a handwritten letter allegedly signed by Ciancia and cited in the FBI affidavit.
The deaths at LAX would “instill fear” in the “traitorous minds” of TSA officers who survived, according to the letter cited by the FBI.
TSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). TSA officers guard passenger safety at LAX, one of the busiest airports in the world. Like many other facilities at which TSA officers protect passengers within the U.S. network of transportation and commerce, LAX is one of America’s great symbols of freedom.
DHS was formed after the 9/11 terrorists hijacked four airliners and made prisoners of passengers engaged in the the simple act of pursuing their freedom. Three of the planes were used as weapons of mass destruction and deliberately flown into the World Trade Centers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. The fourth plane, intended to become another weapon of mass destruction in Washington, crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers began to understand what was happening and tried to overpower their murderous al-Qaeda hijackers.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the four-pronged attack, the final minutes of their lives spent in unimaginable terror.
Similar feelings about dying in a horrifying way were experienced by passengers and workers at LAX Friday: Ciancia, an American from New Jersey living in Los Angeles, allegedly was inside the airport with a weapon that resembled a machine gun. After hearing police bark commands to get down, passengers and workers fearing for their lives hit the floor and scrambled for cover. Some people cloistered themselves in restrooms and restaurants, torturing themselves with thoughts they’d made the wrong bet in the fog of sudden war and had corralled themselves as cattle, becoming more convenient targets for the slaughter.
In an atmosphere of panic and perhaps fearing one or more gunmen also could be packing bombs, some people stampeded for the exits. Once outdoors, they remained fixed on the danger behind them and obliviously sprinted into traffic lanes. They could have survived the initial siege, only to have been killed by an approaching taxicab or perhaps even by a taxiing plane. Chaos breeds such tortuous fates. Events at LAX on Friday were a sort of personal 9/11 for many thousands of people, a mad dash to get out of a war zone.
Ciancia had “five magazine clips of ammunition for his assault rifle,” the FBI said, noting that the letter specifically addressed TSA employees and painted him as a man on a mission.
And Ciancia made what appears to be a formal declaration in the letter, in which he allegedly stated he’d made “the conscious decision to try to kill” multiple TSA employees.
He started by firing “multiple rounds” at Hernandez, who was on duty and wearing his uniform, according to the affidavit. The officer was shot at “point blank range,” with Ciancia next moving toward an escalator.
Upon peering back from the escalator at Hernandez and perhaps noticing movement, Ciancia “returned and shot the wounded officer again,” according to the affidavit.
“The TSA officer was fatally wounded,” according to the affidavit.
Ciancia then opened fire on “at least two other uniformed, on-duty TSA employees and one civilian passenger, all of whom sustained gunshot wounds,” according to the affidavit.
A “sergeant and an officer of the Los Angeles Airport Police” shot Ciancia after pursuing him, according to the affidavit.
As worried Americans watched CNN and other networks Friday for news about the attack, they heard Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti describing Ciancia as a man with enough ammunition to “have literally killed everyone in that terminal.”
Americans also heard Leon Saryan, who was exercising his freedom at the airport Friday, tell of his chilling encounter with Ciancia. As reported by NBC News (italics added):
. . . a witness said the shooter, calmly walking through the terminal with his weapon, approached him with a one-word question.
“All he said was, ‘TSA?’ Just like that,” Leon Saryan told MSNBC.
Saryan appears to have been permitted to survive for one reason and one reason only. He was not “TSA.”
In Ciancia’s mind, this apparently meant that Saryan was not the enemy, meaning he was not the U.S. government or one of its employees. The young man apparently also had decided that he needed to kill federal officers in response to a perceived encroachment by the “New World Order.”
Ciancia also referenced “fiat currency,” according to an AP report.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, quoting a source, reported that Ciancia “also expressed antagonism toward the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its chief until she resigned in August, Janet Napolitano, the source said. Ciancia’s note called former Secretary Napolitano a ‘bull dyke’ and contained the phrase ‘FU Janet Napolitano,’ the source said.”
The shootings occurred in Terminal 3. In mid-October, explosive devices made of dry ice were found in and around the area of Terminal 2 at LAX. Dicarlo Bennett and Miguel Angel Iniguez were arrested in that incident, which possibly was an excruciatingly mindless prank carried out by two contract workers who never got the memo that things that explode are incompatible with airport safety and the safety of millions of souls who exercise their travel freedom in the skies and at ticket counters and boarding and arrival gates on the ground.
An actual attack allegedly carried out by Ciancia at the airport occurred just 19 days after the dry-ice incident.
The Unwanted Footnotes Of Rogues
In allegedly gunning down Gerardo Hernandez and wounding others, Ciancia joined Martin J. Durkin as the author of a terrible, tragic and unwanted footnote. Durkin was the car thief who shot the FBI’s Shanahan, making him the first FBI agent killed in the line of duty. Special Agent Shanhan was 27 when a Durkin bullet entered his chest and killed him.
Although Shanahan returned fire, his death was “almost instantaneous,” the FBI said.
Of course, what happened to Hernandez also reminded Americans of what happened to John Lennon in 1980 at the hands of Mark David Chapman, the author of Lennon’s terrible footnote: first former Beatle to die. Lennon was shot while exercising his freedom to walk in peace at his apartment building in New York City.
And since it’s November and edging closer to the 50th anniversary (Nov. 22) of one of the greatest crimes in U.S. history, it’s hard not to recall yet-another author of an awful footnote that will live for the ages: Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic President to be elected and the first Catholic President to be assassinated. President Kennedy was killed while exercising his freedom to ride in an open convertible in Dallas. (Watch, listen, learn, remember).
Martin Luther King Jr. left this world in 1968. The author of his terrible footnote — an assassinated winner of the Nobel Peace Prize — was James Earl Ray. King was exercising his freedom to stand on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tenn.
Another Senseless Death In America
TSA officers wear uniforms and badges while conducting passenger screenings, but do not carry arms and have no power of arrest. The phrase “sitting ducks” to describe the typical TSA officer was used during television coverage of the LAX events Friday, leading to questions such as this: If the officers are sitting ducks, what are the passengers? Friday’s shooting death of Hernandez in his workplace — a workplace at which the public congregates while exercising its freedom to fly — naturally has led to questions about whether TSA officers should receive training in firearms and carry guns as a means of protecting themselves and the public.
The PP Blog has no early answers to these questions. Nor does it understand how a gunman with a high-powered rifle somehow breached LAX security in a fashion that apparently permitted him to hunt uniform-wearing federal officers for sport in full view of the traveling public.
On this Sunday — after trying to distill all sorts of deeply disturbing information about the death of Officer Hernandez since the news broke Friday — the Blog has reached only one conclusion: Despite his lack of the power of arrest and an employment designation that likely makes him an nonpolice officer, Hernandez should be accorded full police honors, including casket watch, honor guard, funeral commander, pallbearers, flag team and firing party, if consistent with the wishes of his widow.
It is particularly disturbing that TSA officers trying to prevent the next 9/11 and protect symbols of freedom that are the vulnerable equivalents of the toppled Twin Towers and the damaged and rebuilt/refortified Pentagon have become fodder for late-night comedians and targets of the insipid headline taunts of Matt Drudge.
Janet Napolitano, now the president of the University of California and a former U.S. Attorney, two-term governor of Arizona and DHS Secretary, was called names that would peel paint while at DHS. The treatment she received from Drudge was a national disgrace that served to fuel animosity toward TSA officers.
It is one thing to criticize public officials, agencies and employees; it is quite another to subject them to hysterical ridicule. Far too many Americans have been conditioned to believe the TSA consists of gropers and malingerers eager to carry out orders from their Orwellian controllers in Washington.
Officer Gerardo I. Hernandez was exercising his freedom to be employed and not be harassed — let alone murdered — at his workplace. But this is no ordinary case of workplace violence. No, it is a case in which a self-appointed soldier went hunting for the officer and others like him.
Hernandez met his awful fate Friday on a beautiful day in Los Angeles, which had served up a day not unlike the one experienced in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. He appears to have been murdered by a lone-wolf domestic terrorist who preemptively sought to paint himself a patriot and great defender of freedom.
The most deeply disturbing thing about the alleged word choices of Ciancia — the rants against federal employees, “fiat currency,” the Federal Reserve and the “New World Order” — is the striking similarity to rants and conspiracy theories that often appear on the Ponzi boards by other self-styled defenders of freedom.
Ciancia would have been a perfect recruit in that utterly corrupt universe, a young malcontent in search of an intellectually lazy philosophy that reimagines organized fraud as a noble way to make a living while reimagining federal agents as the bad guys who deserve to suffer.
With Ciancia, the intellectual and emotional detachment appears to have become so complete that he licensed himself to kill federal agents, create widows and widowers and alter the psychological trajectories of children and thousands of other innocents — all while hijacking the blanket of patriotism and pretending he was a soldier for freedom.
Rest in Peace, Officer Hernandez.