MIAMI — Broward Sheriff Office (BSO) authorities said five people were killed and eight were injured in a shooting Friday afternoon at Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport (FLL).
The airport posted on Twitter about “an ongoing incident” at the baggage claim area in Terminal 2, without providing further information. Terminal 2 at FLL is home to departures and arrivals for Delta Air Lines and Air Canada.
There is an ongoing incident in Terminal 2, Baggage Claim. Media availability is at the staging area.
— Ft. Laude-Hlwd Int'l (@FLLFlyer) January 6, 2017
Authorities said they first received a call about shots fired just before 13:00 EST. About an hour later, scores of police and law enforcement officials descended on to the airport after reports of an unconfirmed second shooting inside of a parking garage, located between terminals 1 and 2.
Several heavily armored officers were seen running into this parking garage and ordering everyone to get on the ground and take cover. Around this same time, civilians were also seen running across the tarmac. The Transport Safety Administration (TSA) urged passengers to be sheltered in place.
However, during a press conference, an hour later, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said, “There’s no confirmation of any shooting anywhere else.”
Deputies confirmed that the shooter is in custody and under questioning by the FBI.
Sen. Bill Nelson, (D-Florida), identified the shooter as Esteban Santiago. Nelson said the 26-year-old was carrying a military identification. Santiago, with a troubled past had flown to Ft. Lauderdale on a Delta flight from Anchorage via Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Santiago had packed the weapon and ammunition in his checked luggage and declared it upon check-in. After claiming his luggage, he went into the bathroom, unpacked his weapon, and loaded it with ammunition. He indiscriminately and calmly sprayed the baggage claim area with 3 magazines of ammunition. Once Santiago exhausted his bullets, he laid face down on the floor and was apprehended by Broward County Officers within forty seconds without further incident.
Santiago is due in court for his arraignment on Monday.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop, suspending all flights in the wake of the shooting. FLL authorities informed that the airport would be closed “for an extended period of time.”
The airport reopened Saturday morning, with the exception of Delta and Air Canada’s Terminal 2, though flights continue to be disrupted. As of Saturday morning, all Delta and Air Canada flights in and out of Ft. Lauderdale have been cancelled until further notice while Terminal 2 remains closed due to the ongoing investigation.
In a later statement Delta said “Terminal 2, where Delta operates its FLL flights, remains closed to operating aircraft due to the ongoing investigation into Friday’s shooting in the baggage area. However, the TSA has been cleared to start limited screening of departure passengers and bags from Terminal 2. Delta customers who have been notified by Delta that they have been rebooked for travel via Miami and West Palm Beach should continue on with their travel plans from these airports.”
Following the event, Delta Air Lines issued a statement saying that all of its employees at FLL are safe and accounted for.
“The thoughts and prayers of the entire Delta family are with the people of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County, and those involved in the tragic events today,” said Delta chief executive Ed Bastian.
Members of the Delta Care team were activated to assist families and friends of customers and employees that may have been impacted by the shooting.
“The safety of our customers and employees is our deepest core value, and we are providing our complete support to authorities as the situation develops,” Bastian said.
Ft. Lauderdale airport in a tweet said it is “collecting and processing 20,000 bags” that were left behind in the chaos of yesterday’s events.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has four terminals and serves over 73,000 travelers every day. It ranks 21st in the U.S. in total passenger traffic, with more than 650 daily commercial flights.
Story updated: Saturday January 7, 2017 10:55AM EST