Federal Grand Jury Charges San Fernando Valley Man with First-Degree Murder in Fatal Shooting of TSA Officer at LAX
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 17, 2013|
LOS ANGELES—A federal grand jury this afternoon returned an 11-count indictment that charges Paul Anthony Ciancia with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a Transportation Security Administration Officer during a shooting spree at Los Angeles International Airport last month.
Ciancia is charged with murdering Gerardo Hernandez, an officer and employee of the United States, while Officer Hernandez was engaged in his official duties on November 1.
The indictment also charges Ciancia with attempted murder for shooting TSA Officers Tony Leroy Grigsby and James Maurice Speer. The indictment alleges that Ciancia used a Smith & Wesson 5.56-millimeter M&P15 semi-automatic rifle to shoot the three TSA officers.
Ciancia, 23, who at the time of the shooting resided in Sun Valley, also is charged with using the rifle to commit acts of violence against persons at an international airport, including Brian Donovan Ludmer, a civilian who was wounded during the rampage.
The indictment contains one count alleging that Ciancia knowingly used a firearm to murder and cause death and three counts alleging that he did “knowingly carry, brandish, discharge, and use a firearm” when he shot the three surviving victims.
The indictment is a charging document that replaces the criminal complaint filed soon after the shooting incident. The indictment was filed this afternoon in United States District Court after the grand jury determined that there was “probable cause” to find that Ciancia committed the 11 felony offenses. Ciancia is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on December 26.
The three charges based on the killing of Officer Hernandez—first-degree murder, violence at an international airport that resulted in death, and using a firearm to murder and cause death—each carry possible sentences of life in federal prison or the death penalty. The indictment contains a series of allegations that would support a possible sentence of death, including premeditation and the murder of a federal law enforcement officer. At this time, the government has not made a decision on seeking the death penalty if Ciancia is convicted of any of these charges.
The two attempted-murder charges and each of the three charges based on violence against the surviving victims all carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The three counts alleging the use of a firearm each carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years that would be served consecutively to any other sentences that are imposed.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
This case is the product of an investigation by members of the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which is led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and includes agents and officers from 45 other local, state, and federal agencies.
The following agencies provided considerable assistance during the investigation: the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department; the Los Angeles Police Department; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; the Transportation Security Administration; the Federal Air Marshal Service; the Los Angeles Port Police; the Long Beach Police Department; the Air Force Office of Special Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the United States Secret Service; the Los Angeles Fire Department; Los Angeles International Airport Operations; the United States Marshals Service; the United States Postal Inspection Service; the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.