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UPDATE: 5 Dead, 6 Injured During Fort Lauderdale International Airport Shooting

by Gold Coast Magazine Staff Jan 06, 2017 02:11 PM

A gunman opened fire at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday afternoon, leaving five people dead and six injured, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. 

An additional 37 others were taken to area hospitals for injuries stemming from the aftermath of the incident, police said Friday evening. 

The suspect, identified by BSO as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago, is in federal custody and has been interviewed by the FBI.

Saturday, Jan. 7 — 11:30 a.m.

Authorities have positively identified all five deceased victims and are still working on notifying families. Six people were injured with gunshot wounds, as opposed to the eight originally reported. Three of those remain in the ICU, while the other three are in good condition. 

Investigators have so far conducted about 175 interviews and have not yet ruled out terrorism. 

They are looking at all the places the suspect, Esteban Santiago, has resided and traveled, as well as going through social media, to gather additional information about him. 

Special agent George Piro, in charge of the FBI Miami field office, said the suspect used a 9 mm. semi-automatic handgun. Every indication at this time pointed to the suspect following TSA procedure for checking the firearm, he said. 

At this point, it still appears that the suspect was acting alone, Piro said, and there’s no indication that the suspect was on a no-fly list.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said it took about 70-80 seconds from the first gunshot for deputies to come in contact with the suspect.

Mark Gale, airport director, said FLL resumed commercial and passenger operations at 5 a.m. Saturday. The airport hopes to run about 85 percent of their operations today. 

Officials are still working on connecting displaced passengers with baggage that remained at the airport as a result yesterday’s evacuation. More than 20,000 personal items have been collected. Passengers are urged to call 866-435-9355 for assistance in claiming their personal belongings. 

Saturday, Jan. 7 — 9:30 a.m. 

During a morning news conference, Gov. Rick Scott said he spoke with some of the families and victims receiving treatment at Broward Health Medical Center. Some were severely injured, while others said they think they’ll be discharged soon. 

“We’re a strong and resilient state. We’re not going to let attacks like this tear us apart,” he said. 

FLL is now in operation. Terminal 2, where the shooting occurred, is open, but the bottom portion remains closed to authorities, he said. 

When asked about the red flags about the suspect, as well as laws that allow guns and ammunition to be checked, Scott said he wanted to focus on zeroing in on what happened during this incident. A discussion about these laws and what can change would happen a later time, he added.

Suspect Esteban Santiago (Provided by Broward Sheriff’s Office)

Friday, Jan. 6 — 10 p.m.

According to authorities, the suspect, Esteban Santiago, traveled from Alaska to Minneapolis before landing in Fort Lauderdale on a Delta flight. The suspect retrieved a semi-automatic handgun from his baggage, officials said.

The FBI is currently pursuing all leads and has not yet ruled out terrorism.  

The FBI’s George Piro told reporters Santiago—an American citizen with a military background—voluntarily walked into an FBI field office in Anchorage, Alaska, and spoke with agents in November. He stated he did not want to harm anyone, Piro said. Officials contacted local police, who took him to a mental health facility for evaluation, he added.

It is not yet clear what brought the suspect to South Florida.

Airport director Mark Gale estimates that about 10,000 people have been bussed from FLL to Port Everglades, where officials are assisting with making hotel accommodations and providing food. 

The goal is to have FLL back in operation by 5 a.m. Saturday, but Gale is encouraging travelers to contact their individual airlines to confirm flights. Cargo planes, along with corporate jets and private small planes, were set to resume flights by midnight

Officials have set up a hotline to help families get in touch with loved ones who may have been at the airport. Please call 866-435-9355.

Previously: 

A call about the shooting at the airport came in around 12:55 p.m., according to BSO. Flights out of the airport were temporarily suspended, and Port Everglades announced it was closed to all traffic due to the incident.

The shooting took place near baggage claim at terminal 2. The Sun Sentinel spoke with Gene Messina, who was picking up friends at the airport.  

"All of a sudden I heard screaming and running, people coming from security, yelling 'He as a gun, he has a gun!,'" Messina said. 

Mark Lea, from Minneapolis, recounted to NBC News what he saw in the baggage claim area. 

“Everyone started screaming and running. The shooter made his way down through baggage claim. He had what looked like a 9mm and emptied his entire clip. People were trying to run,” he said, according to NBC 6 Miami. 

During a 3:30 p.m. press conference, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel stressed there was one shooter. Earlier reports of a possible second shooter were unconfirmed. 

The suspect is in custody, unharmed, and is being interviewed by law enforcement. Israel said officials are at the beginning stages of their investigation. If there are any ties to terrorism, the FBI will take the lead.

Israel said the names of the 13 victims would not be released until families were notified.

He declined to provide any additional information about the suspect. However, multiple media outlets, citing Sen. Bill Nelson, have identified the suspect as Esteban Santiago, 26. According to reports, he was carrying a military ID. 

Mark Gale, FLL airport director, said he was not sure when the airport would resume regular operation. He noted passengers were sheltered in place and would be released systematically, terminal by terminal, once the area is cleared. 

Officials have set up a hotline to help families get in touch with loved ones who may have been at the airport. Please call 866-435-9355.

Just before 6 p.m., doctors at Broward Health told reporters that all five trauma patients who arrived at their facilities are still alive. Two underwent surgery. They praised the work of the medical team, calling the response "controlled." 

In a statement, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler offered his condolences to the families of the victims and noted the city has heightened security as a precaution.

“We also remind everyone that this is a time for all of us to come together and renew our commitment to being vigilant and keenly aware of our surroundings,” he added. “If you witness any suspicious activity or see anything that looks out of the ordinary, we encourage you to immediately report it to your local authorities.” 

Gov. Rick Scott, who was in Fort Myers this morning, arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 1:45 p.m. to be briefed by officials.

He denounced the “senseless act of evil” and urged everyone to keep the victims and their families in their prayers. 

“You can never imagine how this could’ve happened in a state like ours,” he said, later adding: “Whoever is responsible will be held responsible to the full extent of the law.” 

More from throughout the day: 

Suspect is identified as Esteban Santiago, 26, BSO confirms. 

Hundreds of travelers were still being held at the airport late Friday afternoon. 

Friday afternoon, BSO says it would be detonating a suspicious package.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel addresses the media during a press conference around 3:30 p.m.

Officers with assault rifles and armored vehicles have been monitoring airport grounds and surrounding area.

Flights out of FLL have been temporarily suspended, and flights headed to FLL are being redirected to other Florida airports.

Initial responses immediately following the shooting earlier this afternoon:

 

(Lead photo via Facebook/Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport)

UPDATE: 5 Dead, 6 Injured During Fort Lauderdale International Airport Shooting UPDATE: 5 Dead, 6 Injured During Fort Lauderdale International Airport Shooting

A gunman opened fire at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday afternoon, leaving five people dead and six injured, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. 

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