LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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.
"Gerardo was a great man who always showed his love for our family. He was always there to help anyone in need and always made people laugh with his wonderful sense of humor," she said.
Hernandez was the first TSA official in the agency's 12-year history to be killed in the line of duty.
Authorities said 23-year-old Paul Ciancia walked into Terminal 3 on Friday, pulled an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle from his duffel bag and starting firing at TSA officers.
Hernandez, who had worked at LAX since 2010, was mortally wounded. His 40th birthday was next week.
Two other TSA officers were also hit. Both were treated at the hospital and released.
Airport officers worked hard to save Hernandez, giving him first aid before paramedics arrived and bringing him out in a wheelchair to the ambulance, LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon said.