FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Jan. 6 (Gephardt Daily) — A gunman opened fire at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport early Friday afternoon, shooting five people dead and injuring at least eight others, Broward County, Fla., officials said.
One suspect is in custody. Based on a military I.D. found on the suspect, officials believe he is Esteban Santiago, age 26, and reportedly born in New Jersey to a family of Puerto Rican descent. He is a resident of Alaska.
“Right now, this scene is considered fluid and active,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, in a news conference at about 3 p.m. Eastern time. “He (the shooter) is unharmed. No law enforcement fired any shots at him.”
Witnesses who were in the baggage area for a Delta flight from Atlanta told NBC that the suspect was wearing a “Star Wars” T-shirt, used a semi-automatic handgun, and did not speak as he aimed the gun at his victims’ heads.
“People started kind of screaming and trying to get out of any door they could or hide under the chairs,” witness Mark Lea told MSNBC. “He just kind of continued coming in, just randomly shooting at people, no rhyme or reason to it.”
Some victims were elderly, another witness said. Ft. Lauderdale is a major hub for cruise ships. Passengers fled, leaving baggage strewn all over the terminal floors as they were evacuated to the runway.
According to officials, the suspect flew in from Alaska by way of Canada. He gathered his checked luggage, and retrieved the gun and ammunition — which he had declared — then he returned to the baggage area to fire on strangers.
The gunman is a lone shooter, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief told CNN.
“We don’t know a motive at this point,” he said. “This could well be someone who is mentally deranged, or in fact it could be someone who had a much more sinister motive that we have to worry about every day, and that is terrorism. We can’t conclude that.”
Airport director Mark Gale said officials did not know of any connection Esteban has to Florida.