Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Airport officer mistaken for dead

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LOS ANGELES -- A mortally wounded U.S. airport security agent lay bleeding for minutes without help because a Los Angeles Police Department officer told responders the man was dead, a union spokesman said Friday.

The police officer was standing in front of Gerardo Hernandez, obscuring him from view as he lay bleeding, and told other responding officers Hernandez was dead, said Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association. It's unclear how the police officer made that determination or whether he was qualified to do so.

Hernandez was the first officer with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to be killed in the line of duty since the agency was created after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

He was shot Nov. 1 after a gunman pulled a rifle from a duffel bag in the busy Los Angeles International Airport and targeted TSA officers.

Authorities finally went to aid Hernandez after helping other wounded victims. McClain said an airport officer thought he detected a light pulse and immediately wheeled Hernandez out to paramedics -- 33 minutes after he'd been shot.

McClain said he learned about the events by speaking with airport officers who were involved.

The head of the TSA union said he was appalled at the news, calling the delay "absolutely unacceptable," KNBC-TV reported.

American Federation of Government Employees president J. David Cox Sr. is calling for a "serious re-examination" of TSA security policies.

A Los Angeles Police Department official, Cmdr. Andrew Smith, said an internal investigation will be conducted into the allegation.

Authorities say that Paul Ciancia entered Terminal 3 with a duffel bag, pulled out an assault rifle and started shooting. They said he had a note in his bag that said he wanted to "kill TSA" and to stir fear in them, criticizing their searches as unconstitutional.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 16, 2013 A26

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