The Herald Bulletin

November 23, 2013

Autopsy: TSA officer shot 12 times in LAX attack


The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — A Transportation Security Administration officer killed by a gunman at Los Angeles International Airport was shot 12 times, with bullets grazing his heart and piercing his bladder and intestines, according to an autopsy report released Friday.

Gerardo Hernandez had more than 40 bullet fragments in his body from the Nov. 1 shooting, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said.

He was in full cardiac arrest when he arrived at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Doctors tried to repair damage to his heart with an emergency surgical procedure and twice used electricity to stimulate his heart before resorting to "internal cardiac massage," the report said.

Exploratory surgery in Hernandez's abdomen revealed massive injuries. He was declared dead 45 minutes after arriving at the hospital and nearly two hours after the shooting.

Earlier in the week, the coroner's office released preliminary findings and said Hernandez, 39, died within two to five minutes of being shot.

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter explained why the official time of death was much later than his office's finding, which was not included in the final report.

Doctors were trying to "bring him back," he said.

"They were doing their damndest to try to save his life. Hats off to them," Winter said. "Honestly, I would hope that they would work on anybody if they're not sure. But he was gone."

Authorities have said Paul Ciancia, 23, had a vendetta against the federal government and was targeting TSA officers when he pulled a semi-automatic rifle from a bag and shot Hernandez. Two other TSA employees and an airline passenger were wounded before airport police shot Ciancia.

The Associated Press previously reported that Hernandez lay on the floor for 33 minutes before he was rushed to an ambulance outside, even though Ciancia had been subdued within five minutes.

The lack of quicker aid at the airport prompted the head of the TSA officers' union, J. David Cox Sr., to say he was appalled, and a local union official said a more timely response might have saved Hernandez's life.

Several agencies are investigating the response to the incident, including whether paramedics should have been allowed into the terminal sooner to attend to the wounded.

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating whether one of its officers improperly told other responders that Hernandez was dead when he checked on him five minutes after the shooting.

Ciancia, who was released from the hospital this week, has been charged with murder. He could face the death penalty if convicted.