Ceremony Honors Fallen TSA Agent - New York News

Ceremony Honors Fallen TSA Agent

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(FOX/CNS) - In tribute to a transportation security officer who was shot to death at Los Angeles International Airport, the U.S. Honor Flag was flown to the airport today and escorted by honor guards and bagpipers in a solemn motorcade.

The flag arrived at the airport around 12:30 p.m. aboard an American Airlines plane from a Depository Museum in Austin, Texas, as part of the ceremony honoring Transportation Security Administration officer Gerardo

Hernandez, who was killed during the shooting spree at Terminal 3 on Friday.Hernandez, a 39-year-old father of two from Porter Ranch, was the first TSA officer to be killed in the line of duty.

The American Airlines plane was greeted by water cannons, an airport police honor guard and about a dozen bagpipers, who marched in front of the airliner as it taxied to a gate lined with police cruisers and fire trucks.

The flag was then carried to the front of Terminal 4, where it joined a motorcade that made two laps around LAX's famed horseshoe-shaped loop through the Central Terminal Area.

The flag is expected to be incorporated into Hernandez's funeral service, plans for which have not yet been announced, although there has been some speculation it might be held Tuesday at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

The U.S. Honor Flag was originally taken by motorcade from Texas to New York following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It has since been taken across the country in honor of fallen police, firefighters and other public safety officers.

Also in honor of Hernandez, a moment of silence was expected to be observed at airports across the country at 9:20 a.m. Pacific time Friday.

Meanwhile, the suspected airport gunman, 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia, remained hospitalized in critical condition at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The motive behind his shooting spree, which left several other people wounded, was still a mystery, although federal authorities said Ciancia was carrying a hand-written note saying he wanted to kill multiple TSA officers and made a reference to NWO, or "New World Order."

According to federal authorities, Ciancia asked one of his roommates in Sun Valley to take him to the airport Friday morning, apparently unaware of the suspect's plans.

Ciancia allegedly walked into Terminal 3, pulled a semi-automatic weapon out of a duffel bag and began shooting, targeting TSA officers. Hernandez, who was working at a lower-level station checking passenger IDs, was among the first shot. Authorities said the suspect went up some stairs after shooting Hernandez, but went back downstairs when he realized Hernandez was still alive and shot him again.

Ciancia continued shooting his way through the airport until he was shot four times, including at least once in the head.

About two hours after Ciancia had been taken to the airport, Los Angeles police showed up at his apartment to make a welfare check initiated by his father in New Jersey over concerns he might be planning to commit suicide.

"We like most Americans are shocked and numbed by the tragic events of last Friday," according to a Ciancia family statement read by attorney John Jordan in Pennsville, N.J., on Monday. "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 since sympathy to the Hernandez family," according to the family. "By 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 many others who grieve his passing. 

"... Paul is our son and brother, and 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 distress experienced by many other families, we hope that the public will understand that this is a very difficult time for our family too. The Ciancia family, our neighbors and friends need time to heal, so we ask that you respect our privacy."

The Justice Department on Saturday filed a charge of murder of a federal official against Ciancia, along with a charge of commission of violence at an American airport.

Under federal law and policy, Justice Department officials in Washington, D.C., will evaluate the case to determine if they will seek life in federal prison without parole or the death penalty for Ciancia if he is convicted.

The shooting forced a daylong closure of Terminal 3, and prompted an evacuation of other LAX terminals as police conducted an extensive search to ensure there were no other threats at the airport.

Flights were delayed and canceled at LAX and at airports across the country. Airport officials said Tuesday that between 9:30 a.m. and midnight Friday, 1,550 flights were impacted, affecting roughly 167,000 passengers.

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