FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a lone shooter opened fire at the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, international airport Friday, killing “multiple” people before he was taken into custody. The airport suspended operations as law enforcement authorities rushed to the scene, and emergency medical workers treated at least one bleeding victim on the tarmac.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office cited multiple deaths on its Twitter account, and Gov. Rick Scott’s office also confirmed the shooting. Scott was headed to the airport for a briefing by law enforcement.
Miami area television stations initially reported that at least six people were shot; however, at 12:30 p.m. MST, authorities announced five people had been killed and eight wounded.
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.
Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief told CNN authorities that a lone shooter was responsible for the attack and had been taken into custody.
“We have an active crime scene investigation involving terminal 2,” she said.
Jillian Saunders, from Palm Beach, Florida, told The Associated Press in direct Twitter messages that she was watching the activity from the tarmac in a plane scheduled to fly to Los Angeles.
“Everything you see on the news is happening outside my window,” she said. “I am luckily on the plane and they said we are right now the safest people at the airport.”
Airport officials said on the airport’s website that it was suspending flights. Earlier in the day, the Federal Aviation Administration regulated the pace of flights because of heavy volume after morning fog. According to tracking service FlightAware, about 60 flights to and from Fort Lauderdale were delayed and fewer than a dozen canceled before the shooting.
At 12:50 p.m. MST, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson stated the Fort Lauderdale airport gunman was carrying a military ID with the name Esteban Santiago, though it’s not clear if it belonged to him or to someone else.
Nelson did not spell the name for reporters during a news conference Friday. Nelson says the baggage claim area is a “soft target.” The airport had initially reported an “incident” in the baggage claim area.
Nelson says a motive still hasn’t been determined.
At 1 p.m. MST, officials stated there have been unconfirmed reports of additional shots fired at the international airport.
On Friday afternoon, the Broward County sheriff’s office said on its Twitter account: “Active search: Unconfirmed reports of addt’l shots fired on airport property.”
Earlier in the afternoon, the shooting stopped all traffic at the airport. Passengers were evacuated from the terminal 2 baggage claim area. Passengers returned to the airport as officials said the lone gunman was in custody. But TV reports showed some passengers evacuating again, several looking panicked and ducking behind cars or hiding.
Witness Judah Fernandez told CNN he heard what he believes were the first shots, re-entered the airport, but then rushed out again shortly later to the tarmac. He said: “Everyone’s running now.” He said both security officials and passengers were running.
Associated Press writers FREIDA FRISARO and ADRIANA GOMEZ-LINCON in Miami contributed to this report.
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