Multiple Dead at FL Airport Shooting

Witnesses described a chaotic scene, as a shooter armed with a handgun killed at least five people and injured eight on Friday afternoon.

Joe Raedle/Getty

A lone gunman opened fire at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday afternoon, killing five people and injuring eight others, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement has said the gunman is in custody. The shooting occured at about 1 p.m. in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2. The FAA ordered a ground stop to all flights from the airport. The airport was also evacuated and is now closed.

"All of a sudden I heard screaming and running, people coming from security, yelling 'He has a gun, he has a gun!,'" said Gene Messina, who was reportedly at the airport to pick up his friends.

Sen. Bill Nelson told reporters on Friday that the alleged shooter was identified as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago. According to Nelson, Santiago has a military ID and was armed with a handgun.

Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca posted on Facebook that Santiago was a passenger on a flight with a checked gun. "He claimed his bag and took the gun from baggage and went into the bathroom to load it," LaMarca wrote. "Came out shooting people in baggage claim."

"He was holding a black handgun and he was just shooting randomly into the crowd," witness John Schicher 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."

NBC News reports that two eyewitnesses said a young man opened fire with a handgun. He apparently ran out of bullets, then laid down and waited for police to come.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said in 3:30 p.m. press conference that Santiago is unharmed and that law enforcement officials fired no shots during his arrest. Israel said he believes it is too soon in the investigation to determine whether terrorism is a factor in Friday's attack.

The Army National Guard told ABC News that Santiago was honorably discharged four months ago. His last post was in Ft. Greely, Alaska. His brother, Bryan Santiago, reportedly told NBC News that Santiago received psychological treatment while he was living in Alaska, where he moved two years ago. He served in Puerto Rico and Iraq. He was "pro-America," Bryan told reporters.

National Security Council Spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that President Obama is aware of the situation. “The President was apprised this afternoon by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco of the shooting at Fort Lauderdale airport and will be kept updated as the investigation unfolds,” he said.

Gov. Rick Scott said in an afternoon press conference, "Pray for the individuals who ended up in the hospital, pray that every one of them survives." He added, "Whoever is responsible will be held accountable to the full extent of the law."

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted about the shooting on Friday afternoon. He wrote, “Monitoring the terrible situation in Florida. Just spoke to Governor Scott. Thoughts and prayers for all. Stay safe!”

In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said airborne flights within about 50 miles of the airport will be landing but that any other flights will be delayed or diverted to other locations. “Travelers headed to FLL should check with their air carriers,” the statement said.

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The airport saw nearly 27 million passengers in 2015. It handles 650 commercial flights per day.