Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole said in a memo to TSA workers that was obtained by The Hill that he was unable to comprehend the shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport on Friday that left one of his agency’s employees dead.
The agency’s officials identified the deceased TSA worker as 39-year-old Gerardo Hernandez.
The shooting was the first time a TSA worker had been killed in the line of the duty, Pistole wrote to the agency’s more than 45,000 employees.
“No words can explain the horror that we experienced today when a shooter took the life of a member of our family and injured two TSA officers at Los Angeles International Airport,” he wrote. “Sadly, today marks the first incident where a TSA officer was killed in the line of duty. We can take some comfort knowing that the two injured officers are recovering from their wounds.”
Hernandez was killed by a rifle-wielding man who opened fire in the Los Angeles airport’s Terminal 3 at about 9:20 pacific time on Friday morning.
Pistole said he was planning to travel to the LAX airport on Saturday.
“I will be traveling tomorrow to Los Angeles to meet with our injured employees and the family of our fallen comrade. I also will be spending time with the Los Angeles Airport TSA workforce,” he wrote. “Together, we will get through this. Our faith will guide us and our professionalism will ensure our ability to carry out our mission.”
Pistole added that he received a call from President Obama after the shooting.
“The pain we are feeling is not limited to the TSA family,” he said in the late Friday memo to TSA employees. “I received a call not long ago from President Obama who not only shared with me his condolences, but also pledged his utmost support as together we recover from this tragedy. Other partners in the aviation, airport and security communities shared their condolences as well.”
The Los Angeles airport is the sixth busiest airport in the world, and the third largest facility in the U.S.
Flights to the airport were grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for several hours on Friday as police investigated the shooting incident.