Union Calls For TSA Agents To Carry Firearms In Wake Of LAX Shooting Rampage
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—As federal authorities continue to investigate Friday’s deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, new questions arise about whether TSA officers should be allowed to carry weapons.
Derek Valcourt has more on the shooting and calls for security changes.
Authorities say Paul Ciancia, 23, is responsible for the shooting rampage at LAX Airport on Friday.
Police said Ciancia walked into the airport, pulling a suitcase with a backpack on top. There were holes in both pieces of luggage to hide the assault rifle inside.
Ciancia pulled the gun out, and opened fire on TSA agent Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39, killing him. Two other TSA agents and a passenger were also shot before airport police shot Ciancia four times.
His family issued the following statement through attorney John Jordan in New Jersey Monday morning:
“We, like most Americans, are shocked and numbed by the tragic events of last Friday. We acknowledge the need to understand what happened and why it happened. To that end, we, as the Ciancia family, have fully cooperated with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies over the last several days.
“It is most important for us as a family to express our deep and sincere sympathy to the Hernandez family. On all accounts, Officer Hernandez was an exemplary member of the law enforcement community and a good family man; our hearts go out to his family and any others who grieve his passing.
“We wish to convey too our hopes for those who were wounded in this incident will experience quick and full recoveries. We also regret the inconvenience experienced by thousands of travelers, as well as the administration and the employees of the Los Angeles Airport.
Paul is our son and brother. We will continue to love him and care for him. We will support him during the difficult times ahead. While we do not mean to minimize the grief and stress experienced by many other families, we hope that the public will understand that this is a very difficult time for our family too.”
Ciancia had lived in Sun Valley, Calif. for a year and a half, but is originally from Pennsville, N.J.
According to court documents, Ciancia left a letter that said he made the conscious decision to try to kill multiple TSA employees in order to instill fear.
Now federal authorities promise a full review of security at all airport checkpoints.
“The responsibility for protecting airport security is not a TSA function, but something that I think we need to certainly examine given what happened in Los Angeles,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
“Our officers and the TSA in general are vilified constantly,” said David Borer, who is with the union that represents 45,000 TSA workers.
They’re now calling for some of those TSA agents to carry firearms on the job.
“We’re not advocating at this time that all 45,000 officers be armed. We believe that creating a layer of security within TSA where there are law enforcement officers at TSA that would provide like a nationwide law enforcement force to backup our officers and secure those checkpoints,” Borer said.
Global aviation security expert Rafi Ron says arming TSA officers would be a mistake.
But he agrees armed police officers should be present at the checkpoints.
“If there was a dedicated person carrying a firearm who is formally trained, among other training with behavior-detection techniques, we would’ve been in a much better position,” Ron said.
For now, travelers have mixed feeling on whether TSA officers should be armed.
“We don’t want to arm people in public places,” said Sophie Milam, BWI traveler.
“I didn’t think pilots should be armed but I’m glad they are. I was against it at first. I think these guys should be too,” said Charles Tewksbury, BWI traveler.
High costs are one of the primary reasons armed officers are no longer stationed at TSA checkpoints.
TSA agents across the country are wearing black bands on their badges in honor of the first TSA victim to be killed in the line of duty.
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