Memorial service Tuesday for slain airport officer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Transportation Security Administration officer who was killed by a rampaging gunman at Los Angeles International Airport is being honored Tuesday at a public memorial service.
Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole, Attorney General Eric Holder, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other officials were expected to speak at Tuesday’s service for Gerardo Hernandez at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
Hernandez, 39, was the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty. Airports across the U.S. held a moment of silence Friday at the time he was shot.
Born in El Salvador, Hernandez was the youngest of four boys. He moved to the United States when he was 15. Four years later, he met his wife, and they married on Valentine’s Day in 1998.
Friends described him as a doting father of two.
Hernandez had worked at LAX since 2010. He was shot a week before his 40th birthday.
Hernandez was checking IDs and boarding passes at Terminal 3 on Nov. 1 when a gunman walked up, pulled a semi-automatic rifle from a duffel bag and shot him at point-blank range, then shot him again as he lay wounded, authorities have said.
The shots sent swarms of passengers fleeing to find hiding places. Two other TSA officers and a teacher waiting at a security checkpoint were wounded within minutes before airport police shot the gunman four times in the mouth and leg.
Paul Ciancia, who remains hospitalized, has been charged with first-degree murder of a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport, but he will not appear in court until he is cleared by doctors.
Ciancia, a 23-year-old unemployed motorcycle mechanic, had a handwritten letter stating that he made the conscious decision to try to kill multiple TSA officers and “instill fear in your traitorous minds.” Authorities have said he targeted TSA officers, although a precise motive for the attack remained unclear.
Federal agents were investigating possible ties between Ciancia and a widely circulated conspiracy theory that the U.S. government is preparing to establish a totalitarian state.