Editor’s note: A shooter opened fire Friday afternoon at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, killing five people and wounding eight others before he was taken into custody.
This is a developing story and updates will be provided as information is released.
Update 5: False alarm: during a briefing with the press, the Local Sheriff’s department in Florida said it appears the gunman at Fort Lauderdale Airport was acting alone.
Additionally, according to the Broward County commissioner, shooter Esteban Santiago was a passenger on Canadian flight who had checked a gun in his bag. He claimed a bag, then went into bathroom where he loaded his gun and started shooting.
According to Sheriff Scott Israel, the gunman shot at least 13 people, of which 8 are hospitalized and 8 are dead, and is now unharmed and in custody; the scene remains “fluid.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 6, 2017
Update 4: The incident has been upgraded to a terrorist attack according to the Broward Sheriff’s office.
TERROR ATTACK AT FT LAUDERDALE AIRPORT: The Broward Sheriff Office just upgraded incident to a “terrorist attack”https://t.co/Ncl57ry4X6
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) January 6, 2017
Update 3: According to unconfirmed reports, there may be a second shooter at the airport.
Update 2: ADDITIONAL VICTIMS REPORTEDLY SHOT IN 2ND SHOOTING INCIDENT AT FT LAUDERDALE AIRPORT. MULTIPLE SHOOTERS REPORTED.
Update 1: SenBillNelson has identified the gunman at FLL as Esteban Santiago. He was carrying military ID. Unclear if it belongs to him.
A shooter opened fire Friday afternoon at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, killing five people and injuring eight others before being taken into custody, the Broward County sheriff said cited by NBC.
The gunman appeared to be shooting randomly into a crowd as panicked travelers took cover from a barrage of bullets — and he only stopped when the ammo ran out, according to witnesses. The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport, located about 25 miles north of Miami, tweeted the incident occurred at a baggage claim inside Terminal 2. Calls came in around 12:55 p.m. ET.
“At first we thought it was firecrackers,” Mark Lea, 53, told MSNBC. “Everyone started screaming and running. The shooter made his way down through baggage claim. He had what looked like a 9 mm and emptied his entire clip. People were trying to run.”
Lea said the shooting only stopped because the gunman ran out of bullets.
John Schicher told MSNBC he had just arrived at baggage claim with his wife and mother-in-law when the gunman started firing just feet away from him.
“He was holding a black handgun and he was just shooting randomly into the crowd,” Schicher, who said he was “in shock,” told MSNBC. “There were elderly people who were shot and killed, there were two people to my left and two people to my right that were shot.”
The gunman said nothing and didn’t appear to be targeting anyone specifically, Schicher said, adding that the shooter had time to reload his gun before he was stopped by police. “He walked over and he was right in our area, like within just feet of us, shooting people. I didn’t know if I would be shot or if my wife or my mother-in-law would either,” he said.
Schicher said he called 911 after the shots were fired, while his wife administered first aid to a man that had been shot in the head. His mother-in-law used her sweater to put pressure on another man’s gunshot wound, but “he was gone already” by that point.
The shooter was wearing a blue “Star Wars” t-shirt, according to Schicher. He didn’t get a good glimpse of the suspect.
“I put my head down and prayed,” he said. “We stayed down.”
In the aftermath of the chaos, cameras outside the airport showed firefighters and other emergency personnel, plus large groups of passengers, standing on a tarmac. The Federal Aviation Administration did not immediately order an official ground stop at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, but officials were not letting anyone inside.
“We have no evidence at this time that he was acting with anyone else. He is currently in custody and we’re investigating,” Sharief said. Investigators are looking into the suspect’s motive, she said.
The Fort Lauderdale airport tweeted the incident occurred at a baggage claim inside Terminal 2. Passengers and workers were evacuated onto a tarmac. “There is an ongoing incident in Terminal 2, Baggage Claim,” said a post on the airport’s Twitter account.
News stations showed video of medics taking care of a bleeding victim outside the airport. News helicopters hovering over the scene showed hundreds of people standing on the tarmac as an ambulance drove by and numerous law enforcement officers, including tactical units, rushed to the scene. The Federal Aviation Administration did not immediately order an
official ground stop at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, but officials were
not letting anyone inside.
According to a witness, the gunman was silent as he opened fire with a handgun at the baggage claim, shooting people in the head; had time to reload.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the shooting occurred inside an airport terminal. Passengers and workers were evacuated onto a tarmac.
A law enforcement expert said authorities will try to determine who the suspect is and whether there are other plots afoot.
“You’re trying to understand, is this a one-off guy? Regardless of motive, is he alone, or is there something else?” law enforcement expert Jim Cavanaugh told MSNBC. “We hate to think that way, but that’s the requirement for police commanders — to think that way.”
Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted that he was at the airport at the time of the shooting and “everyone is running.” He later tweeted that “all seems calm.”
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