White House

5 Dead, 6 Wounded in Shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

The gunman is in custody and is being interviewed by investigators, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said

Federal prosecutors have filed charges against the Florida airport shooting suspect that could bring the death penalty if he is convicted.

A criminal complaint filed Saturday by the Miami U.S. attorney's office accuses 26-year-old Esteban Santiago of an act of violence at an international airport resulting in death. The punishment is execution or any prison sentence up to life.

Prosecutors also charged Santiago with two firearms offenses.

Authorities have confirmed the identities of the five victims killed in Friday's shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

One of the five victims killed has been identified as 62-year-old Terry Andres.

Andres' daughter told NBC News that her father was shot and killed by Esteban Santiago, 26, during the shooting. Six other people were wounded and taken to the hospital, local officials said.

Elizabeth Oehme-Miller told The Associated Press by phone Saturday that her brother, 57-year-old Michael Oehme, was killed in Friday's attack and that her brother's wife, 52-year-old Kari Oehme, was shot in the shoulder and is expected to recover.

Oehme-Miller says her brother and sister-in-law were in Fort Lauderdale getting ready for a Caribbean cruise that was supposed to start Saturday. She says they were frequent travelers who loved cruises and were happy to be headed on another one.

Santiago allegedly opened fire in a baggage claim area after retrieving a handgun from his checked luggage in the airport's second Terminal.

"I was dodging bullets and trying to help people get out of the way," an eyewitness, Mark Lea, told NBC News. 

He was taken into custody uninjured and was interviewed by BSO detectives and FBI agents, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said in a Friday evening news conference, adding that Santiago is now in federal custody. No shots were fired by authorities, Israel said.

"At this point, it looks like he acted alone," Israel said.

FBI spokesman George Piro said Friday Santiago will be federally charged and likely make his first court appearance Monday in Broward County.

Meanwhile, Florida hospital officials say one of the airport shooting victims is expected to be released.

Six gunshot victims were brought to Broward Health Medical Center after Friday's shooting in which five others died. Officials said Saturday at a news conference with Gov. Rick Scott that one is well enough for release.

While the motive remains under investigation, his brother and federal officials said he had been receiving psychological treatment recently. Santiago served in Iraq with the National Guard but was demoted and discharged last year for unsatisfactory performance.

In November, he walked into the FBI's office in Anchorage and complained of hearing voices, claiming the CIA was forcing him to join ISIS, Piro said during a Friday evening news conference.

Officials said local police were called and he voluntarily went to a mental health facility for treatment.

Santiago took off from Anchorage to Minneapolis-St. Paul Thursday night aboard Delta Flight 1088, checking only one piece of luggage — his gun, said Jesse Davis, police chief at the Anchorage airport. He then boarded Delta Flight 2182 to Fort Lauderdale. 

At Fort Lauderdale, "after he claimed his bag, he went into the bathroom and loaded the gun and started shooting. We don't know why," said Chip LaMarca, a Broward County commissioner who was briefed by investigators.

The bloodshed is likely to raise questions of whether aviation safety officials need to change the rules.

The shooting started hours of turmoil at the airport as police tried to confirm there wasn't an additional shooter. More than an hour after the attack, people were seen running across the tarmac and sheltering behind cars while police had their guns drawn at a parking garage at the airport. But Sheriff Israel said the only shots fired were at Terminal 2.

"Someone said they heard something that sounded like gunshots," Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said on MSNBC of the later police activity.

Lea, a 53-year-old financial adviser from Minneapolis, was in the baggage claim when, he said, a man came in and started shooting. 

"At first we thought it was firecrackers," he said. "Everyone started screaming and running. The shooter made his way down through baggage claim. He had what looked like a 9mm and emptied his entire clip. People were trying to run."

Lea said the gunman was silent as he "went up and down the carousels of the baggage claim, shooting through luggage to get at people that were hiding.''

When the shooter ran out of ammunition Lea said "He threw the gun down and laid spread-eagle on the ground until the officer came up to him."

Police officers responded less than a minute after the shooting began, Lea said.

“It was absolutely surreal,” he said. “People were scared and frantically running to avoid being shot. People were tripping over each other. They were trying to make a fast exit out of the door.”

"I was just running for my life because I heard the gun shots and knew there were gun shots so I had to run," said Jackline Tantan of Margate who was in the baggage claim of terminal two when the shooter opened fire.

he ``went up and down the carousels of the baggage claim, shooting through luggage to get at people that were hiding.'' The killer had a handgun and went through about three magazines before running out of ammunition, Lea said.
  ``He threw the gun down and laid spread-eagle on the ground until the officer came up to him,'' Lea said.

John Schlicher, who was in the baggage claim with his wife and mother-in-law, told MSNBC the shooter "walked over and he was right in our area within feet from us shooting people.”

"I put my head down and prayed," Schlicher said. 

He added that his wife "was holding a sweater up against a man who was shot in the head. She was doing her best to apply pressure to his wounds. The person right next to him was already gone."

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who was traveling from the airport, tweeted about the incident that "everyone" was running.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott traveled to Fort Lauderdale, where he held a news conference outside the airport.

"The citizens of Florida will not tolerate senseless acts of evil. You just can't imagine how this could ever happen in a state like ours," Gov. Scott said. "My heart goes out to every family impacted, the families that lost their loved ones, and the families and the individuals that still have loved ones still in the hospital fighting for their life."

BSO Fire Rescue said of 30 people transported to hospitals from the airport, 29 were taken to Broward Health Medical Center and one was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital. Officials at Broward Health said they received five trauma patients at the hospital and that all were stable.

Gov. Scott later went to Broward Health, where he said he talked to doctors and some patients. He added that he's been in contact with President Obama and President-elect Trump, who both offered support. 

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted, "Monitoring the terrible situation in Florida. Just spoke to Governor Scott. Thoughts and prayers for all. Stay safe!"

The ATF said it is responding to the shooting to assist state and local officials.

The airport has temporarily suspended all services. All flights within 50 miles at the time of the closure were able to land, while the rest were diverted to other airports.

At Miami International Airport, officials said they added extra security following the shooting.

"We're feeling very lucky because were were supposed to go through Fort Lauderdale to end up in L.A. and our flight got changed while we were on the cruise," California traveler Karen Grey said at MIA. "I'm really nervous about all the people we met on the cruise, I hope everybody is safe."

Broward officials said they've established a toll-free number for passengers and family members at 866-435-9355. At family assistance center was set up at the Renaissance Hotel at 1617 Southeast 17th Street in Fort Lauderdale.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us