A mass shooting took place on Jan. 6 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Broward County, Florida, killing five and injuring six others. At least 36 people sustained injuries in the panic following the attack. The suspect, 26 year-old Esteban Santiago, flew from Anchorage, Alaska, to Fort Lauderdale.
According to Fox News, Santiago checked his Glock .9mm pistol with TSA before leaving Alaska, and upon arriving at Fort Lauderdale, picked it up at the baggage claim, loaded it and fired on the crowd. After running through two clips, he laid on the ground and waited for police to arrive.
Freshman Alexa Capiro was on a plane outside the airport when the shooting took place.
“I was with my sisters Alyssa and Michelle Gontko,” Capiro said. “We had just gone through the security gate and were boarding our plane during the time the shooting occurred. (We were) leaving Fort Lauderdale and flying to Memphis. I had no idea what was actually going on at the time.”
According to Capiro, the plane could not leave until they knew no other individuals were involved in the shooting.
“During the whole thing, my sisters and I were very concerned because our parents, who dropped us off, had been by the baggage claim (where the shooting took place).”
Upon arriving at the Memphis airport, their terminal was locked down and the passengers were not allowed to leave and pick up their possessions at the baggage claim until security had re-examined everyone’s luggage.
Florida native junior Laren Houstoun was also on a plane when she heard the news.
“A man read a report out loud that nine people had been shot dead,” Houstoun said. “But that was all we heard. We heard nothing from our attendants or our captain. For two and a half hours that’s all we had to think about.”
Both women said they could see people leaving the airport en masse, with little uniformity in their evacuation, while police cars and officers scattered outside.
Searcy resident Carla Sumner and her 12-year-old daughter had just boarded the plane, bringing an end to their vacation in Florida, when passengers received news of the shooting.
“We didn’t even know it was happening until phones started ringing with friends and family calling to see if we were okay,” Sumner said. “Then we looked out the window and saw people on the runway.”
According to Fox News, Santiago is being held behind bars and faces the death penalty if convicted.