Shooting Rampage at Los Angeles Airport: How It Happened

Police say a TSA officer was killed, six more people were injured when a gunman opened fire.
3:00 | 11/01/13

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Transcript for Shooting Rampage at Los Angeles Airport: How It Happened
information about a 23-year-old man who went on a rampage at los angeles international airport today shooting numerous tsa officers and killing at least one while travelers cowered for their lives. How did he make it past security? What was his motive? Abc's david wright has the late-breaking details about the terrifying scene. Everybody on the floor. On the floor now. Reporter: The nightmare started at 9:20 a.M. An active shooting unsettling word. A man armed with a high powered rifle marched up to the tsa checkpoint in terminal three and opened fire. He was all in blue. Wearing like all blue. He blend in with the tsa with the people that work in the securities. First shot went out it was a loud bang. I mean, boom. Reporter: Witnesses say he appeared to be aiming at tsa officers killing one tsa officer, wounding another. That's the wounded officer running to safety. Flanked by airport police. One passenger gave a chilling account of his close call with the gunman. He said, tsa, with a question mark, and I just shook my head. He kept on going. I was looking down the barre a gun. He was carrying a rifle that was about, 2 1/2 feet long rifle. He didn't seem to have anything in it for me. So -- you know, we didn't have a long conversation. I just, I just shook my head. And cowered in the corner. Reporter: At least four others were injured in the melee. Did people panic? Everybody panicked. Everybody dropped to the ground, started crawling across the ground quickly. Nick pew there at terminal three checkpoint line. He followed others out the nearest exit and found himself on the tarmac. We are going to be loaded on to shuttles soon. Where police were searching for a possible second suspect. I went out an emergency exit and ran down on to the tarmac, running across tarmac, the cops come to me. Thinking I am maybe the guy, hand up, down on the ground. Handcuffed. I was left there on the ground for, 10 minutes. They thought you were the suspect? I think so. Absolutely. Reporter: Inside the terminal, pandemonium. Some hid in the bathroom. Others ducked for cover behind whatever large objects they could find. Come on, you guys. We grabbed all the big luggage. I stacked them high. Big row, stacked them. Next thing you know. I look, I see him shooting down the escalator. I told my wife when I say three, we ran. I waited until he is not looking toward us. So we could all run. Reporter: Police led some passengers out through the terminals, hand raised. Others escorted on to the tarmac until the coast was clear. The gunman made it all the way inside the terminal having shot his way past the checkpoint. The suspect got back far into a terminal. A burger king quite a ways away from the screening station. He was able to get back there. They cornered him outsoutside burger king and shot him. That's his gun on the floor. Everybody stay together. Police believe he was acting alone and ided him. Today we are going to confirm the identity of the subject, it is paul anthony ciancia. He is 23 years old. He is a u.S. Citizen. He is formerly a rez divesident of new jersey. We are investigating his back ground and more about him. Everybody. Reporter: The tsa officer identified as girardo hernandez, the first ever to be killed in the line of do they. The tsa says he was a behavior detection officers. Officers who watch the check points for strange be hair. In all six people including the gunmen were transported to area hospitals. Doctors say one is in critical condition with gunshot wound. Late today authorities say he intended the carnage to be worse. There was additional round that this gunman had. And the fact that the officers were able to neutralize the threat as they did, there were more than 100 more round that could have literally killed everybody in that terminal today. As for a possible motive. Only clues at this hour. Law enforcement sources tell abc news, authorities found a note from the suspect, with an anti-government message indicating he expected to die today. The note ended with the letters nwo, believed off to be a reference to the new world order. Tonight his roommate said this didn't sound like the person he knew. There was never any discussion about like the federal government or problems with the government. There was never any kind of about hatred or any hatred group or anything like that. He was a really nice guy. A bit loner,troverted that i would ever expect him to do something like this. Although authorities believe he acted alone, they're investigating possible ties to the domestic terror organizations. We believe at this point that there was a lone shooter. That he acted at least right now with the only person that was armed in this incident. This morning another possible clue from the pensville police department, paul ciancia's home town. A small town. The police chief knows the family. Chief, you know the family well, you grew up with the father. What kind of people are they? Good people. I think this is circumstances the fbi is doing a great job. Obviously you, know it is back home, and we're going to do the best to help them out. The family called them this morning. Warning of disturbing text message he's sent. Abc news spoke with the pennsville police all. Up atheir younger child got a text message from paul stating that there was a comment in there, about his well being he wanted to possibly take his own life. At that point, paul, his father. Called me. I went over there and made some phone calls to lapd to get a well being check on him. Clearly they were too late. The incident virtually shuttle down the nation's third busiest airport for most of the day. The lapd blocking off all main roads leading into l.A.X. Passengers arriving to catch flights were stuck in traffic, were stuck on foot with their bags. The few passengers who landed had to hoof it half a mile to catch a ride. Most of them milled at the ticket counters where it was standing room only. Terminals themselves were cleared most of the day. Terminal 3 is still a crime scene. But the rest are now open. When the terminals did reopen late today there was a traffic jam of incoming passengers on foot. I don't think we will get in. Lugging their roller bags. Today's incident is prompting a review of security procedures at u.S. Airports. Tsa union, for one pressing for more officers to be armed, most do not carry guns. If you are flying at any u.S. Airport in the next couple days expect to see a more visible presence of local police. And if you are flying out of l.A.X., Brace yourself. It could take days to get things back to normal. I'm david wright for "nightline," at l.A.X. Thank you, david for that

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