LAX shooting: TSA rejects arming officers

TSA officers are seen at an airport checkpoint in this undated file photo.
January 31, 2014 1:53:18 AM PST
The head of the Transportation Security Administration says many options are being considered following the deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, but that arming officers is not the answer.

"I don't think introducing additional guns to the checkpoint is the solution here," TSA Administrator John Pistole said Thursday during a press conference about pre-check lanes at LAX.

The accused gunman, Paul Ciancia, opened fire in Terminal 3 on Nov. 1, killing TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez and wounding three others. It was the first time in history that a TSA agent died in the line of duty.

TSA officials say the agency currently gives $48 million a year to law enforcement agencies to respond to checkpoints at airports around the country, and they hope to have a report to Congress in the next 90 days with suggestions about how to make checkpoints safer.

Investigators believe Ciancia was targeting TSA workers, but it remains unclear what prompted his contempt for the agency. Ciancia has pleaded not guilty to 11 felonies, including first-degree murder, and faces a possible death sentence if convicted. The trial is set for Feb. 11.

Meantime, Hernandez's widow and two children were at TSA offices on Thursday to receive $30,000 scholarships for his son, Luis, and daughter, Stephanie, provided by the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation.

"It's nice that I have people caring about me and thinking about my family," said Stephanie Hernandez.

Stephanie, who dreams of studying medicine at Harvard University, says the money will go a long way toward her and her brother's future. Luis says he strives to make his dad proud.

"He always loved all of his jobs and always put his heart into everything, so that's what I'm going to miss most about him," said Luis.

Now, while security officials are reviewing ways to make sure a shooting tragedy like Hernandez's never happens again, his family is focusing on the positive memories he left behind.

"He was a very loving, generous, happy, optimistic man," said Hernandez's widow, Ana Machuca.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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