Accused Los Angeles airport gunman due in court, prosecutors seek to deny bail

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 04, 2013 8:01 AM
Accused Los Angeles airport gunman due in court, prosecutors seek to deny bail

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man charged with opening fire at Los Angeles International Airport last month, killing a federal security screener and wounding three other people, was due in court on Wednesday as prosecutors seek to deny him bail.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, was taken into custody following the November 1 attack at Terminal 3 of one of the world's busiest airports after police shot him four times, including in the face, wounding him critically.

He was charged in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles with killing a Transportation Security Administration officer and committing an act of violence at an international airport, but he had been prevented by his injuries from making an initial court appearance in the days following his arrest.

Ciancia was not expected to enter a plea during his arraignment at a jail in Rancho Cucamonga, California, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

During the hearing, a federal magistrate judge will formally advise Ciancia of the charges against him, set future court dates and take up the issue of whether he can be released on bond, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.

Ciancia was handed over to U.S. marshals last month after receiving treatment in a hospital.

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors filed court papers asking that Ciancia be jailed until trial because he represented a flight risk and danger to the community.

Ciancia is accused of walking into Terminal 3, removing an assault-style rifle from a bag and opening fire on an unarmed TSA agent standing at the entrance to security checkpoint.

Authorities say he then went past metal detectors through the checkpoint and into the airplane-boarding area, shooting and wounding two other TSA employees and a traveler before he was critically wounded in a gunfight with airport police.

The shooting sparked a debate over the safety of unarmed screeners at U.S. airports and the efficacy of allowing passengers and members of the public to freely roam ticketing areas and other parts of terminals beyond secure zones where they must be screened.

The officer killed in the rampage, 39-year-old Gerardo Hernandez, became the first TSA employee slain in the line of duty since the agency was created in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Ken Wills)