Support for LAist comes from
True LA stories, powered by you
Stay Connected

Share This

News

'Tragic' Timing: Police Went To Check On Alleged LAX Shooter Just Minutes After He Left For Airport

Our reporting is free for everyone, but it’s not free to make.
LAist only exists with reader support. If you're in a position to give, your donation powers our reporters and keeps us independent.

Friday's shooting at LAX was very nearly intercepted.Police were en route to the home of alleged LAX shooter Paul Ciancia on Friday morning to do a welfare check just as he was headed to the airport. His family was concerned about a suicidal text that they had received from Ciancia. Ciancia's father, also named Paul, called Allen Cummings, the police chief in New Jersey who put in a call to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The police did head out to Ciancia's current home in Sun Valley, but it turns out that they missed him by a matter of just 45 minutes, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul told CNN. When LAPD arrived at Ciancia's home, he wasn't home. Two of his roommates were sleeping and they weren't sure where Ciancia and their other roommate had gone, according to CNN.

McCaul called the timing "tragic:" "This is how we typically stop these things—through good intelligence, and if family members or friends see a loved one who is exhibiting signs of mental illness...then I think it's incumbent to call this to local authorities. They actually did that in this case and, unfortunately, missed the suspect by a matter of minutes."

Even though Ciancia's family and friends didn't know exactly what was going on with Ciancia, they guessed that Ciancia was a suspect in the shooting before he was publicly identified.

Support for LAist comes from

Cummings received another phone call from Ciancia's father later on in the day, according to the Los Angeles Times. He told the chief, "I'm watching TV and I think this is my son at the airport."

Ciancia had told his roommates that his father was sick and that he needed to fly back to Jersey soon—though he never said which day he needed a ride. On the morning of the shooting, he barged into the room of one of his roommates. A source friends with the roommates told CNN, "That morning he doesn't knock. He just opens the door and says, 'I need to leave. Can you take me now?'" When the roommate who gave him a ride got back, he returned to see the other roommates glued to the TV watching coverage of the shooting. A friend of the roommates' told ABC: "He said, 'Oh, I just dropped off Paul at LAX, he had to go home.' And at that moment, they just knew."

But so far we haven't heard much about where or how Ciancia developed his extreme anti-government views. He had been in Los Angeles for about 18 months altogether. Cummings told the Times, "We don't really know what happened out West. We don't know where he got his ideas or where that came from."

The Southern Poverty Law Center also says that while there's no evidence Ciancia joined any extremist groups, the literature that he carried with him on the day of the shooting puts him "squarely in the conspiracy-minded world of the antigovernment 'Patriot' movement":


Hatewatch has no records of Ciancia and he is not known to have joined or participated in the activities of any radical groups. Reporters talking to his neighbors have not yet found any evidence of such participation or radical statements. The attack, which Ciancia allegedly carried out using a semi-automatic 223-caliber AR-15, comes at a time when the Patriot movement has been growing by leaps and bounds, from some 149 groups in 2008 to 1,360 last year, according to counts by the Southern Poverty Law Center. That explosive growth seems to have been driven by the election of our first black president and the approaching loss of a white majority in the U.S. that he represents. Another driver is the crash of the economy, which coincided neatly with the rise to national power of President Obama.

Support for LAist comes from

Ciancia is in critical condition at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. TSA Agent Gerardo Hernandez was killed in the shooting at LAX. Two more TSA agents James Speer, 54, and Tony Grigsby, 36 were wounded in the shooting and have been released from the hospital. Calabasas High School teacher Brian Ludmer, 29, is in fair condition after being wounded and is expected to undergo a second surgery today.Related:
FBI: Paul Ciancia Targeted TSA, Wanted To 'Instill Fear Into Their Traitorous Minds.'
What We Know So Far About The LAX Shooter
Reports: Gunman Opens Fire At LAX, Kills TSA Agent