LOS ANGELES – The FBI said Friday that the Egyptian immigrant who fatally shot two people at the Los Angeles airport went there with the intent to kill.
"It appears he went there with the intention of killing. Why he did that is what we are still trying to determine," FBI agent Richard Garcia said.
Limousine driver Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, who lived in nearby Irvine, was killed by El Al security guards after he opened fire at people standing at the Israeli national airline's ticket counter. July 4 was his 41st birthday, according to a relative in Egypt.
The FBI stopped short of characterizing the Cairo-born Hadayet's rampage, which wounded two others, as an act of terror, and the White House echoed that line.
"There is no evidence, no indication at this time that this is terrorists," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Friday. He added that President Bush extends his condolences to the victims.
"We can't rule that out, but there's nothing to indicate terrorism at this point," FBI spokesman Matt McLaughlin said earlier, suggesting it might instead be a hate crime.
"We'd have to find some connections to a terrorist group," he said.
In Israel, however, where the shootings drew massive coverage, officials were certain it was connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though they offered no evidence.
"As far as we're concerned, this is not an isolated incident," Israeli Transportation Minister Ephraim Sneh said.
FBI agent Ron Iden said Hadayet was heavily armed, carrying a .45-caliber Glock pistol, a 9-millimeter handgun and a 6-inch hunting knife.
"He had extra ammunition and magazines ready to go," the FBI's McLaughlin said.
Travelers dove to the ground or scattered for cover when gunfire erupted at the El Al counter. Ticket agent Victoria Hen, 25, and Yaakov Aminov, 46, a jeweler and father of eight who was dropping off a friend, were fatally shot before two El Al guards overwhelmed Hadayet.
The guards and a woman were wounded; another woman suffered heart problems.
The FBI released the gunman's name late Thursday as police in suburban Irvine, 35 miles southeast of the airport, searched his apartment. Police Lt. Sam Allevato said they were looking for his wife and two sons. Neighbors said they went to Egypt for the summer.
Federal agents later arrived with a search warrant to examine the apartment, from which Hadayet ran his livery service, Five Star Limo. They carried away a computer, books, binders, and boxes and bags of material, and impounded a Toyota Camry.
In Cairo, Hassan Mostafa Mahfouz, a retired general who is married to Hadayet's aunt, said the suspect's wife and sister were taken in for questioning by Egyptian intelligence. Mahfouz said the news of the shooting left him in disbelief.
"He is a very, very tender person and close to his family," Mahfouz said of Hadayet.
Mahfouz said Hadayet had studied commerce at Ain Shams University in Cairo, and had worked as an accountant in a bank before he left for the United States in 1992.
Kobi Metzler, 44, who lives near Hadayet, said his 16-year-old daughter recently asked Hadayet about using his limo service to go to her prom.
"She came home and said 'Dad, this guy is so cool,"' Metzler said, adding that Hadayet offered his daughter a low price.
Police also visited the apartment of Hadayet's father, in a middle-income area of Cairo, security guards at the building said.
Hadayet's Irvine neighbors said he was quiet but became incensed when an upstairs neighbor hung large American and Marine Corps flags from a balcony above his front door after Sept. 11. The flags remained there Thursday night.
"He complained about it to the apartment manager. He thought it was being thrown in his face," said Steve Thompson, 39.
There was no record of such a complaint, said Rich Elbaum, a spokesman for The Irvine Co., which owns and manages the complex where Hadayet lived.
The flags were there the day of the shooting. A bumper sticker on Hadayet's front door that read "Read the Koran" was removed by authorities.
Hadayet, who also went by the last name Ali, had California driver's licenses listing two different birth dates — April 7, 1961, and July 4, 1961 — according to the FBI. Authorities believe the discrepancy was caused when he filled out his application and wrote 4-7-61 instead of 7-4-61.
The FBI also released a photograph of Hadayet that was taken for gun registrations.
The attack came just days after announcement of a $9.6 billion airport redesign proposal that would require everyone coming to the airport to park outside the airport and go through screening at a remote site before boarding trains to the terminals.
Last year, an Algerian trained in terrorist camps financed by Usama bin Laden was convicted of plotting to blow up Los Angeles International Airport at the height of the millennium holiday travel period. Ahmed Ressam was arrested in Washington state on Dec. 14, 1999, while entering the country from Canada in a car with a trunk full of explosives.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.