LAX Gunman Had Money Problems

Posted on July 16, 2002 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

LOS ANGELES -- Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, who shot two people and injured three others at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport on July 4, told a friend he was having money problems and his business was on the brink of collapse, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Hadayet was in line at the ticket counter in the Tom Bradley International Airport at LAX when he opened fire, killing Victoria Hen, 25, and Yaakov Aminov, 46, before he was killed by an El Al security guard.

Hadayet, who operated Five Star Limousine Service out of his Irvine, Calif. apartment, was having good luck until about one year ago. He moved from Egypt 10 years ago on a six-month tourist visa, earned money working illegally as a cab driver and later bought a limousine before he knew how to drive one, the newspaper said. His wife won a lottery for permanent residency in the U.S., keeping Hadayet from being deported.

However, in recent months, Hadayet, described as a quiet, devout Muslim, could not keep up with his liability insurance and his wife sought out neighborhood baby-sitting work, the Times reported.

Hadayet started the limousine business in 1997, and bought a stretch limousine in November 1998. According to the Associated Press, he put $3,000 down on the $30,000 vehicle and agreed to $1,225 monthly payments. Virgil Budnic, a car salesman, said Hadayet assured him he knew how to drive a stretch limousine, but put a gash in the passenger side when he hit a pole moments after getting behind the wheel.

Israeli officials say the shooting is an act of terrorism, but U.S. authorities say Hadayet appeared to be acting alone. FBI officials say Hadayet did go to the airport with two guns and a knife and the intent to kill, but his motive has been unexplained.

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