Shots fired at Fort Lauderdale airport, multiple dead, several injured
PHOENIX — At least five people were killed and eight injured Friday after a gunman opened fire inside Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleisher was the first to report the news.
The shooting happened in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2. The baggage claim is accessible to the public and does not require a security screening prior to entry.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said the Fort Lauderdale airport gunman was carrying a military ID with the name Esteban Santiago. He was taken into custody shortly after the shooting without incident.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Friday that 37 more were injured after the incident, in addition to the initial reports of five dead and eight injured.
Santiago’s brother, Bryan, said the suspect had been receiving psychological treatment while living in Alaska.
Santiago had visited an FBI office in Anchorage in November, complaining to agents that voices in his head were telling him to engage with the Islamic State. FBI officials referred the man to a nearby hospital after the incident.
Bryan told The Associated Press that his family got a call in recent months from Santiago’s girlfriend alerting them to the situation.
Bryan said he didn’t know what his brother was being treated for and that they never talked about it over the phone.
He said Esteban was born in New Jersey but moved to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico when he was 2 years old. He said Esteban grew up in the southern coastal town of Penuelas and served with the island’s National Guard for a couple of years.
He was deployed to Iraq in 2010 and spent a year there with the 130th Engineer Battalion, the 1013th engineer company out of Aguadilla, according to Puerto Rico National Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Dahlen.
FBI officials said Friday night that he will be charged with a federal charge, but they are not ruling out terrorism as a possible motive.
Israel said the scene is considered “fluid and active” but later clarified that there was only one scene under investigation — that inside Terminal 2.
News stations showed video of medics taking care of a bleeding victim outside the airport. 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 airport was shut down as a result of the shootings, but airport officials said in a press conference on Friday night that they hope to be “operational” by 5 a.m. Saturday morning.
The airport urged passengers to check their flight status with their airline.
A flight tracking website said at least one flight from Phoenix headed for Fort Lauderdale was diverted to Orlando.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport said it is planning to step up security as a response to the shooting.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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