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Pennsville Man Pleads Not Guilty in LAX Killing

The Pennsville man authorities say killed a TSA screener and wounded three other people during a rampage through the Los Angeles airport last month has pleaded not guilty on murder and other felony charges in a case that could bring the death penalty.Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, entered his plea Thursday during a brief appearance before a federal magistrate at a Southern California detention center.

Paul Ciancia
Paul Ciancia (LAPD)

Ciancia was indicted on first-degree murder and 10 other counts in the  shooting.

Authorities say the unemployed motorcycle mechanic arrived at the airport’s Terminal 3 on Nov. 1 with the intention of killing TSA workers. Officials have said Ciancia had a grudge against the agency, but they have not indicated what prompted it.

After entering the terminal, police say Ciancia pulled a semi-automatic rifle from a duffel bag and began spraying the area with gunfire as hundreds of people fled in terror.

TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez was killed. Two other uniformed TSA officers and a traveler were wounded.

Hernandez, 39, became the first TSA officer to die in the line of duty. A coroner’s report showed he was struck by a dozen bullets. Witnesses have said that after first shooting him the gunman returned to shoot again when he saw Hernandez move.

Airport police arrested Ciancia following a gunfight in which they wounded him four times.

An indictment accuses him of “substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person and to commit an act of terrorism.”

Authorities say if convicted he could be sentenced to death. Ciancia is from Pennsville but moved to LA in 2012. 

Trial is set for Feb. 11 in Los Angeles federal court.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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