A gunman who killed a TSA officer and injured three other people in a shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport three years ago has entered a guilty plea in an agreement that spares him from the death penalty, NBC reports.
Paul Ciancia, now 26, shot Transportation Security Administration officer Gerardo Hernandez 12 times with a semiautomatic rifle and wounded three others in the 2013 shooting rampage that sent passengers and airport screeners running for their lives.
Ciancia faces mandatory life imprisonment for murder and other charges, as stated in the plea agreement filed Thursday in U.S. District Court. He pleaded guilty to all charges.
His death penalty trial was set to begin early next year, but after the plea agreement, prosecutors won’t seek the death sentence anymore.
Before the plea agreement, federal prosecutors sought the death penalty on account of the murder being premeditated, the killer’s intention to kill multiple people, and how it caused panic among passengers and airport workers.
Hernandez’s widow, Ana Machuca, said the prosecutors informed her about the plea agreement and she accepted it.
“This doesn’t change anything,” Machuca said. “My husband’s not coming back.”
Ana said she was “definitely on board for the death penalty but that does take forever. It doesn’t bring peace, it doesn’t bring closure. My husband died and my children lost their father. There isn’t anything anyone can do for us.”
Ciancia had the full intention to kill a Transportation Security Administration agent and incite fear among airport worker, according to a note found in his luggage, which he signed as “Paul Ciancia Pissed-off Patriot.”
Paul wrote that he’d only feel that his mission was completed once he was able to kill at least one TSA agent. He added that he would be more thrilled if he is able to kill more.
“If you made the conscious decision to put on a TSA costume and violate peoples’ rights this morning, I made the conscious decision to try to kill you,” Ciancia wrote, according to the agreement. “I want to instill fear in your traitorous minds. I want it to always be in the back of your head just how easy it is to take a weapon to the beginning of your Nazi checkpoints.”
While the cause of his displeasure towards airport personnel remains unclear, Ciancia had been known to complain about unconstitutional searches and lamented that every American is treated as a terrorist.
Ciancia is scheduled to appear in the U.S. District Court on Tuesday afternoon to change his plea from not guilty, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney. His attorneys didn’t respond when they were asked for comment.
As previously reported by Fox News, Ciancia asked one of his roommates to drive him to the Los Angeles airport on the morning of November 1, 2013, claiming that he was flying home to visit his family in New Jersey. On his way to LAX, he sent alarming text messages to his brother and sister, saying he was sorry to leave them prematurely.
As stated in the agreement, he texted his brother that his “whole life has been leading up to this,” and that “this was the purpose I was brought here. I won’t fail.”
The unemployed motorcycle mechanic texted his sister, saying that he was struggling to find work and was unable to feed and shelter himself.
“Please don’t let the story be skewed,” he wrote to her. “There wasn’t a terrorist attack on Nov. 1. There was a pissed off patriot trying to water the tree of liberty.”
The shooting rampage began at a TSA checkpoint in Terminal 3, where Ciancia drew a.223-caliber assault rifle from his duffel bag and opened fire at Hernandez, killing the 39-year-old father of two.
Ciancia began walking upstairs but returned when he saw Hernandez move and shot him at point-blank range.
He then shot two more agents and an airline traveler before he was hit by gunfire from officers in the terminal, according to authorities.
In his note, Ciancia said he made a conscious decision to “preserve innocent lives.” Numerous passengers who feared for their lives during the attack said that Ciancia asked them if they were TSA and then spared their lives when they said they were not.
[Photo by FBI/AP Images]