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Slain TSA agent's funeral: 'I'm just grateful for what TSA does'

November 12, 2013|By Kate Mather
  • Wounded TSA Officer Tony Grigsby, center, is greeted by fellow officers as he arrives for the public memorial service for slain Transportation Security Administration agent Gerardo Hernandez at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Tuesday.
Wounded TSA Officer Tony Grigsby, center, is greeted by fellow officers… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

As law enforcement officers milled about the parking lot of the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena on Tuesday morning, the sound of a bagpipe faintly playing in the distance, Renee Kinner stood near the entrance, waiting to go inside.

Kinner, 59, choked up as she explained why she was at the memorial for Gerardo I. Hernandez, the Transportation Security Administration agent killed at Los Angeles International Airport 11 days ago. Kinner worked for the agency for 10 years, retiring in March, she said. Her son still works for TSA and was stationed just a terminal away from where a gunman opened fire at LAX on Nov. 1.

"It upset me," Kinner said, pausing to regain her composure. "I felt the need to be here. I'm still a TSA person."

Kinner said she called her son "right away" after she learned of the shooting at LAX. "I knew he was on duty and wanted to make sure he was OK," she said. In the days since, she said, she's felt "just sadness."

"I don't know anybody in uniform here but I feel a kinship to them," she said Tuesday. "There's not the acceptance and gratitude from the public. It's tough."

"I'm just grateful for what TSA does," she said later. "And hopefully the public would see what it takes to do the job."

A range of law enforcement officials arrived at the Sports Arena early Tuesday morning, many pausing to snap photos of the massive U.S. flag hanging between two fire truck ladders outside the entrance. Local, state and federal officials were expected to attend the public memorial, set to begin at 10 a.m.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder was on the list of speakers, along with Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers and TSA Administrator John Pistole. Other TSA supervisors from LAX were also expected to speak.

Hernandez — a 39-year-old father of two — was killed and three other people were wounded when gunfire broke out inside LAX's Terminal 3 the morning of Nov. 1. Authorities allege that the suspect, 23-year-old Anthony Paul Ciancia, targeted TSA workers, writing in a signed note that he wanted to kill TSA agents and "instill fear in their traitorous minds." Witnesses said he asked if they were TSA agents as he moved through the terminal.

Ciancia was wounded in a gun battle with airport police and was taken into custody about 10 minutes after opening fire, authorities said. He remained in critical condition Monday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Ciancia has been charged with the murder of a federal officer and the commission of violence at an airport.


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Twitter: @katemather

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