LOS ANGELES The 23-year-old gunman charged in told authorities at the scene that he acted alone and had been dropped off at the airport by a friend, a law enforcement official who has been briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press exclusively Sunday.
Authorities do not believe the friend knew that, planned to open fire inside LAX's Terminal 3 just moments later, killing one Transportation Security Administration officer and wounding four others, including two more TSA workers, said the official, who is not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation and requested anonymity.
Ciancia was dropped off in a black Hyundai and was not a ticketed passenger. He was able to respond to investigators' questions at the scene Friday, the source said.
Ciancia, an unemployed motorcycle mechanic who grew up in the small, working-class town of Pennsville, New Jersey, was shot four times and was under a 24-hour armed guard at the hospital, where he remained heavily sedated, the law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
Federal prosecutors charged Ciancia on Saturday with murder of a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport. The charges could qualify him for the death penalty.
Full operations at Los Angeles International Airport resumed Sunday, reports KCBS Los Angeles.
The 100-foot pylons at LAX lit up in blue overnight while an American flag was flown at half-staff to remember TSA officer Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39. His death marked the first "line of duty" death in the agency's 12-year history.
On Saturday, airport officials announced the reopening of Terminal 3, where the shooting unfolded just after 9:20 a.m. Friday. Although fully operational, some travelers expressed their reservations.
"I'm just creeped out because it's unsettling," Linda, a traveler, told KCBS. "I think the probability of anything ever happening ever happening again, right now, right here? Probably not."
In court documents and interviews, authorities spelled out a chilling chain of events, saying Ciancia walked into the airport, pulled a .223-caliber assault rifle from his duffel bag and fired repeatedly at point-blank range at Hernandez, killing him.
He then fired on at least two other uniformed TSA employees and an airline passenger, who all were wounded, before airport police shot him as panicked passengers cowered in stores and restaurants, authorities said.
It wasn't clear why Ciancia targeted TSA officers, but what he left behind made it clear he intended to kill any of them that crossed his path, FBI Agent in Charge David L. Bowdich said.
The shooter's duffel bag contained a handwritten letter signed by Ciancia stating he'd "made the conscious decision to try to kill" multiple TSA employees and that he wanted to "instill fear in their traitorous minds," Bowdich said.
Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that he had seen the note and said that what Ciancia "wanted to talk about was how easy it is to bring a gun into an airport and do something just like he did."
The attack underscores how difficult it is to protect travelers at a massive airport such as LAX, where the terminals are open and easily accessible to thousands of people who arrive via a broad ring road that fronts the facility and is designed to move people along quickly.
"It's very difficult to stop these types of attacks," McCaul said. "And you know, it's like a shopping mall outside the perimeter, it's almost like an open shopping mall. So it's very difficult to protect."
The FBI has served a search warrant on a Sun Valley residence where Ciancia lived, Ari Dekofsky, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Los Angeles field office, said Sunday. Agents are still interviewing people, she said.
Hernandez, a three-year veteran of the TSA, moved to the U.S. from El Salvador at age 15, married his sweetheart, Ana, on Valentine's Day in 1998 and had two children.
The other two TSA officers wounded in the attack have been released from the hospital.
Brian Ludmer, a Calabasas High School teacher, remained in fair condition at Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the leg.
His family declined to comment and asked for privacy, hospital officials said.
The FBI was still looking into Ciancia's past, but investigators said they had not found evidence of previous crimes or any run-ins with the TSA. They said he had never applied for a job with the agency.