Suspect in LAX shooting pleads not guilty

4:50 PM, Dec 26, 2013   |    comments
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Paul Ciancia, 23 (Photo: AP)

The suspect in the Los Angeles airport shooting rampage last month that left a TSA screener dead and three others injured pleaded not guilty Thursday in a brief federal court hearing.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, is accused of 11 felony charges, including one of murder and three of attempted murder.

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The trial was set for Feb. 11 in Los Angeles federal court, the Associated Press reports. Ciancia could face the death penalty if convicted.

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He entered his plea at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, where he has been held without bail since soon after his arrest.

Ciancia is recovering from wounds suffered when airport police shot him in the head and leg during the Nov. 1 rampage at Terminal 3. At Thursday's hearing, he sported a bandage over his throat and spoke in a hoarse voice when he entered his plea, the Los Angeles Times noted.

Authorities say the unemployed motorcycle mechanic arrived at the airport with the intention of killing TSA workers.

The New Jersey native had a documented hatred of TSA agents and allegedly targeted them during the attack, authorities said, the Los Angeles Timesreports.

After entering the terminal, police say Ciancia pulled a semiautomatic 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 with airport police, who shot him four times in the head and leg.

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.

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