Public memorial held for TSA officer killed in LAX shooting

Gerardo Hernandez Memorial - 1

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

TSA agent Ericson Salvador, who works in LAX's terminal one, enters a public memorial on Tuesday for Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Hernandez was the first-ever TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty, after a shooting at LAX more than a week ago.

Gerardo Hernandez Memorial - 2

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

TSA agents greet injured colleagues Tony Grigsby and James Speer before a public memorial on Tuesday for Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Hernandez was the first-ever TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty, after a shooting at LAX more than a week ago.

Gerardo Hernandez Memorial - 3

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Attendees wear a picture of Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez before a public memorial on Tuesday for Hernandez at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Hernandez was the first-ever TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty, after a shooting at LAX more than a week ago.

Gerardo Hernandez Memorial - 4

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Retired San Jose Police Officer Brian Hyland of the Los Angeles Police Emerald Society tunes his bagpipes before a public memorial on Tuesday for Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Hernandez was the first-ever TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty, after a shooting at LAX more than a week ago.

Gerardo Hernandez Memorial - 5

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Mitch Mendler, president of Project 2978 World Memorial, puts up state flags before a public memorial on Tuesday for Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Hernandez was the first-ever TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty, after a shooting at LAX more than a week ago.

Gerardo Hernandez Memorial - 6

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

TSA agents wait outside before a public memorial on Tuesday for Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Hernandez was the first-ever TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty, after a shooting at LAX more than a week ago.

Gerardo Hernandez Memorial - 7

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Injured TSA agent Tony Grigsby enters a public memorial on Tuesday for Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Hernandez was the first-ever TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty, after a shooting at LAX more than a week ago.

Gerardo Hernandez Memorial - 8

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Bagpipers and drummers from the the Los Angeles Police Emerald Society enter before a public memorial on Tuesday for Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Hernandez was the first-ever TSA agent to be killed in the line of duty, after a shooting at LAX more than a week ago.

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

TSA officers, LA area police officers and federal dignitaries honor slain TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez at a memorial Tuesday.

Erika Agular/KPCC

A team of TSA officers and L.A. Airport Police officers fold a traveling honor flag that hung high above the entrance at the memorial held Tuesday for fallen TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez.

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

A team of TSA officers and L.A. Airport Police officers fold a traveling honor flag that hung high above the entrance at the memorial held Tuesday for fallen TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez.

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

A team of TSA officers and L.A. Airport Police officers fold a traveling honor flag that hung high above the entrance at the memorial held Tuesday for fallen TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez.

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

Friends and co-workers of TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez made blue-ribbon pins to wear to the memorial in honor of their colleague, the first TSA officer to die in the line of duty.


Colleagues of the Transportation Security Administration officer shot and killed during a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport honored his life and service Tuesday at a memorial of song, memories and honor guard ceremony.  

“It has been difficult,” said TSA Supervisory Officer Sheleta Fraceser, who emceed the memorial. “But through all the love and support received and the grace of God, my co-workers and I have begun a healing process.”

Memorial Service Honors Slain TSA Officer

A lone gunman who was reportedly targeting TSA officers at LAX shot Gerardo Hernandez, 39, on Nov. 1 as the victim checked passengers through Terminal 3. Hernandez was a father of two and the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty.

The service Tuesday at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena began with a solemn eulogy followed by a soulful rendition of "Amazing Grace," performed by a chorus of blue-uniformed TSA officials.

Hernandez’s family attended but did not speak. Instead, an LAX airport security official read a note written by Hernandez's wife, Ana Machuca. She wrote that Hernandez was the youngest of four sons who immigrated to the United States from El Salvador when he was 15 years old. He graduated from Los Angeles High School.

The couple met as teenagers, married on Valentine’s Day 15 years ago and raised two children together: a 14-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter.  Hernandez would have turned 40 years old last weekend.

“I am devastated,” Machuca wrote. “We are all heartbroken and will miss him dearly.”

Acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Rand Beers presented an American honor flag to Hernandez’s wife on bended knee.

Friend of the family Cesar Perez said the cheerful TSA officer who always had a smile taught him what it meant to be a committed husband and loving father.

"I guarantee you that he left with no loose ends,” said Perez. “And only a man with that type of dedication to his family can do this.”

The sharply dressed TSA officers, L.A. Airport Police officers and security guards, LAPD officers and airlines pilots filled sections of seats at the memorial. Two other TSA officers who were wounded, Tony Grigsby and James Speer, also attended the services.

Alleged gunman Paul Ciancia is still in the hospital and has been charged with Hernandez's murder.

TSA officers are committed to their duties despite the tragedy, said TSA Supervisory Officer Danielle Arocho, who is assigned to Terminal 3 and worked with Hernandez.  Fighting tears, she said Hernandez respected and cared for all passengers and employees and adjusted to change easily and with great integrity. 

“He is our hero,” Arocho said. “We will hold our heads high and continue to protect each other, as that is what Gerardo would have wanted of his team.”  

TSA Administrator John Pistole attended the services along with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

“The actions that you all took on that terrible day remind us that courage and compassion will always be stronger than violence and hate,” Pistole told the TSA officers.

Some of the public who attended wore royal blue to honor Hernandez’s service to the TSA. Blue ribbons with his picture were also pinned to attendees.

RELATED: KPCC coverage of the shooting at LAX

This story has been updated.

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