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Suspect in LA airport shooting pleads not guilty

Paul Anthony Ciancia is charged with fatally shooting a TSA screener and wounding three other people.

FBI/Reuters

Paul Anthony Ciancia is charged with fatally shooting a TSA screener and wounding three other people.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (AP) — The man authorities say killed a Transportation Security Administration screener and wounded three other people during a rampage at Los Angeles International Airport last month pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and other felony charges in a case that could bring the death penalty.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, who was wounded before his arrest, occasionally touched a bandage on his neck and spoke in a hoarse voice during a three-minute arraignment before a federal magistrate at the West Valley Detention Center east of Los Angeles where there is a medical facility.

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The diminutive defendant acknowledged his name in a near-whisper and that he had read his 11-count indictment.

Trial was set for Feb. 11 in a downtown Los Angeles federal court.

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.

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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, N.J., and moved to Los Angeles in 2012.

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