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Accused Los Angeles airport gunman indicted on 11 federal charges

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of the FBI. REUTERS/FBI/Handout via Reuters
Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of the FBI. REUTERS/FBI/Handout via Reuters

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The man accused of opening fire at Los Angeles International Airport last month, killing a federal security screener and wounding three other people, was indicted on Tuesday on charges of premeditated murder and attempted murder of federal officers.

Three charges in the 11-count indictment against Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, carry a maximum sentence of life in prison or the death penalty, though federal prosecutors have not decided yet whether to seek capital punishment if he were convicted.

The indictment replaces the original two-count criminal complaint filed in the case against Ciancia the day after the shooting.

Ciancia, who was himself wounded by police during the November 1 shooting at one of the world's busiest airports, made his first appearance before a judge on December 4, when he was ordered held without bond pending trial. He did not enter a plea.

He is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on December 26, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Ciancia is accused of walking into Terminal 3 at the airport, removing a semi-automatic rifle from a bag and opening fire on an unarmed Transportation Security Administration officer standing at the entrance to a security checkpoint.

The TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez, 39, was the first agent slain in the line of duty since the agency was created in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Authorities say Ciancia then stalked past metal detectors through the checkpoint and into the airplane-boarding area, shooting and wounding two other TSA employees and a traveler before he was critically wounded in a gunfight with airport police.

In addition to a single count of murder and two of attempted murder of federal officers, Ciancia was indicted on four counts of committing an act of violence at an international airport and four counts of firearms offenses.

The LAX shooting sparked a debate over the safety of unarmed security screeners at U.S. airports and the efficacy of allowing passengers and members of the public to freely roam ticketing areas and other parts of terminals beyond secure zones where they must be screened.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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