LOS ANGELES – Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the man charged in a deadly shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport, according to court papers filed Friday.
Prosecutors said Paul Ciancia acted intentionally in the killing of an airport screening officer and terrorized passengers and colleagues of the fallen man.
"Ciancia acted with the intent that his crimes would strike fear in the hearts of Transportation Security Administration employees and dissuade them from fulfillment of their duties," Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wrote. "By committing his crimes on a weekday morning in a crowded terminal at one of the busiest airports in the world, ... Ciancia terrorized numerous airline passengers and airport employees by causing them to fear for their lives and experience extreme emotional distress."
Ciancia, 24, has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in the killing of Gerardo Hernandez, 39, and the wounding of three other people at LAX on Nov. 1, 2013. The New Jersey native is due in court Monday for a hearing on the status of his case.
The shooting caused chaos and terror as security screeners fled their posts among a hail of bullets and passengers ran for cover. The airport was crippled for most of the day and flights across the country were interrupted.
Although officers quickly shot Ciancia and arrested him, it took hours for officers to search the rest of the airport and determine there were no additional gunmen.
The decision to seek the death penalty was up to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
A judge wants the case to be tried this year, but the death penalty decision could delay it.