Slain TSA officer was 'a joyful person'
LOS ANGELES — Friends and family remembered slain Transportation Security Administration officer Gerardo I. Hernandez as a family man who constantly smiled at travelers passing through the Los Angeles airport.
"He was always excited to go to work and enjoyed the interactions with the passengers at LAX," said his wife, Ana. "He was a joyful person, always smiling. He took pride in his duty for the American public and for the TSA mission."
Ana Hernandez made the short statement Saturday in front of the couple's house in Porter Ranch in the San Fernando Valley. Her hands shook and her voice cracked as she read off a folded piece of paper, stopping at times.
Hernandez was the first TSA official in the agency's 12-year history to be killed in the line of duty. He was a father of two.
Authorities said 23-year-old Paul Ciancia walked into Terminal 3 on Friday, pulled an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle from his duffel bag and starting firing at TSA officers. Hernandez, who had worked at LAX since 2010, was mortally wounded.
Born in El Salvador, Hernandez was the youngest of four boys. He moved to the United States when he was 15. Four years later, he met his wife, and they married on Valentine's Day in 1998.
Neighbor Ken Wong told KCBS-TV: "Here's a man who was trying to serve his country, do his job well and support his family, and this is a senseless thing that happened."