Saturday, June 23, 2018

In suspect's hometown, neighbors shocked at news of LAX shootings

PENNSVILLE, N.J. — The New Jersey man who was shot and arrested Friday in the shootings at Los Angeles International Airport was remembered by neighbors as "just a normal kid" who attended the local high school and worked in his father's auto repair shop here.

They were stunned to learn that 23-year-old Paul Ciancia was identified as the suspect in the shootings and were unaware he was in California.

He comes from a "super super nice family," said Orlando Pagan, 45, who has lived across the street from the Ciancia family for the past 10 years. "There were never any signs. . . . I'm shocked."

Pagan said the suspect's mother, Susan, died of cancer a couple of years ago. He said his father, also named Paul, has an auto repair shop in Pennsville, and is an associate member of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 6 in town.

Pennsville Police Chief Allen Cummings told the Associated Press that Ciancia's father called him early Friday afternoon saying another of his children had received a text message from the suspect "in reference to him taking his own life."

Cummings said the elder Ciancia asked him for help in locating his son. The chief said he then contacted Los Angeles police.

Pagan, the neighbor, recalled seeing the younger Ciancia when he attended Pennsville High School.

"When he came home, he waved to my family," Pagan said.

Pagan's son, Josh, 17, said Paul Ciancia worked in the car repair shop after school.

"You wouldn't think someone like that would come out of a family like that," said Josh Pagan. "It would make more sense to me" if authorities had accused the wrong person.

Pagan said Paul Ciancia also has a younger brother, Anthony, 21.

Another neighbor, Gary Hankins, said residents in their community are not close — literally. The houses are at the end of long driveways and are separated by wooded areas.

"The community is not very tight-knit," he said. "The houses are hundreds of feet off the road."

"Someone in a small quiet neighborhood . . . it sends chills up your spine," Hankins said. "I feel so bad for the family."

Hankins said the elder Paul Ciancia has been a businessman in the area for 20 to 25 years. "The father always took care of people" at the auto body shop, he said.

"The family has always been very nice to us," Hankins said.

Hankins said he didn't know the younger Ciancia was living in California. On Friday night, police blocked the entrance to the Ciancia house and have declined comment.

 
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