January 06, 2017
Five people are dead and eight injured after a man opened fire at a baggage claim inside the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday afternoon, according to the Broward County Sheriff.
Authorities said it was too soon to confirm whether the shooting was terrorist-related, but that law enforcement officials were interviewing the suspected shooter Friday after sheriff’s deputies took the uninjured man into custody.
While authorities have declined to name either the victims killed or the gunman, Sen. Bill Nelson, speaking on CNN, identified the gunman as Esteban Santiago and said the man was carrying a military ID card. The Florida Democrat said he received a briefing from Transportation Security Administration Administrator Peter Neffenger, who indicated authorities were fairly certain of the man’s name but that they were not sure if the ID card he was carrying was authentic.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel declined to comment on whether the gunman had just arrived to the airport on a flight, but Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca wrote in a post to Facebook that the gunman was a passenger on a Canadian flight and had checked his gun in his baggage. After landing at the Florida airport, the gunman retrieved his luggage, went into a bathroom to load his firearm and subsequently began shooting people in the baggage claim area.
Sheriff Israel dispelled rumors that there was a second shooting at the airport, saying the baggage claim in Terminal 2 where the gunman opened fire was the only site of gunfire.
“At this point, it looks like he acted alone,” Sheriff Israel said, adding it was too early to speculate on the gunman’s motive for carrying out the shooting.
The sheriff referred to the airport scene as “fluid and active” and airport Director Mark Gale said it was unclear how long the airport would remain closed.
Law enforcement officials said they first began receiving calls reporting gunfire in Terminal 2 of the airport at 12:55 p.m Friday.
News footage from the scene showed people evacuating from the airport and standing on the tarmac as first responders rushed to the scene. Throughout the afternoon, people could be seen streaming out of airport exits and at various points crouching behind emergency vehicles to take cover.
Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer tweeted that he was at the airport when shots were fired and that “everyone is running.” He later wrote that the scene seemed calm and that “the police aren’t letting anyone out of the airport.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he had been briefed on the shooting by law enforcement.
President-elect Donald Trump tweeted Friday, after emerging from an intelligence briefing on Russian hacking, that he was also monitoring the situation.
“Monitoring the terrible situation in Florida. Just spoke to Governor Scott. Thoughts and prayers for all. Stay safe!” Mr. Trump wrote.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a statement indicating that as of 2:15 p.m., any flights inbound and within 50 miles of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport would land at the airport but that other flights might be delayed or diverted.
Airport officials later provided an update stating that no flights are currently taking off from or landing at Fort Lauderdale. Flights destined for the airport are currently being held.