The family of the accused gunman in last week's Los Angeles airport rampage broke their silence Monday to express sympathy for the victims and pledge love and support for the suspect.
In a written statement read by their attorney outside the police station in their New Jersey town, the family of Paul Anthony Ciancia asked for privacy and understanding.
"We, like most Americans, are shocked and numbed by the tragic events of last Friday," the statement said. "We acknowledge the need to understand what happened and why it happened."
They said they had fully cooperated with federal investigators probing the ambush of Transportation Security Administration workers and offered their condolences to the family of slain TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez.
They said their family was also struggling with the aftermath of the attack.
"Paul is our son and brother. We will continue to love him and care for him. We will support him through the difficult times ahead," they said.
Ciancia, 23, is charged with killing a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport — crimes that carry the threat of execution.
Shot in the face by police officers as he roamed the terminal with a semi-automatic rifle, the suspect is in critical but stable condition with injuries to his jaw, mouth and tongue, law-enforcement officers said.
Officials have said Ciancia sent a suicidal text message to his family the morning of the shooting, saying he was thinking of taking his life. They called cops in Pennsville, N.J., who notified the LAPD.
AP Photo/Reed Saxon
Police stand guard in Terminal 2 at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. A gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire at the airport on Friday, killing a Transportation Security Administration employee and wounding two other people. Flights were disrupted nationwide.
But when officers went to Ciancia's Los Angeles apartment, he wasn't there and his roommates said everything was fine.
Related: Roommate dropped off alleged shooter
Ciancia allegedly entered the secure area of the airport through a gateway normally used by travelers exiting the terminal, pulled a semiautomatic .223 rifle from his duffel bag and opened fire on the unarmed TSA workers.
A criminal complaint said that he walked away, then returned to shoot Hernandez a second time. A passenger was also wounded.
As reported by NBC News, the suspect was carrying anti-government literature outlining an purported conspiracy to create a single global government, possibly prepared by a group known as the "New World Order." A criminal complaint said a note made it clear TSA officials were the target and included a threat to "instill fear in your traitorous minds.'
Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said Ciancia was on a "suicide mission."
"It’s clearly one of those notes that reads, ‘I’m going to kill people and I don’t want to kill civilians,’ with the idea that he’s going to die at the end of this,” McCaul told CNN on Sunday.
McCaul said Ciancia's note made reference to what he saw as lax airport security.
"The other thing he wanted to talk about was how easy it is to bring a gun into an airport and do something just like he did," McCaul said.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that security at the nation's airports will be reviewed in the wake of the LAX tragedy.
"The function of TSA is to ensure that people can board planes safely, take flights safely," Holder said at a news conference in response to a question about Friday's rampage.
"The responsibility for protecting airports' security is not a TSA function, but it's something that we need to examine given what happened in Los Angeles," he said.
Hernandez, 39, was the first TSA employee to be killed in the line of duty in the agency's 12-year history.
The other officers — nine-year TSA veteran Tony Grigsby, 36, who was grazed by a bullet near his foot; and five-year TSA veteran James Speer, who was shot in the shoulder — are home resting and are expected to recover.
Passenger Brian Ludmer, a Los Angeles-area high school teacher, is recovering in the hospital after being shot in the leg.
NBC News' Daniel Arkin contributed to this report.
First published November 4 2013, 9:20 AM