Multiple People Killed In Airport Shooting In Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Jan 6, 2017
Originally published on January 6, 2017 6:16 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

More details are emerging about Esteban Santiago, the man arrested after a shooting today at Fort Lauderdale's airport. Five people were killed and eight injured in the baggage claim area at Terminal 2. Authorities say he acted alone. Fort Lauderdale's airport is shut down. Dozens of planes with passengers are still on the tarmac and are still being evacuated.

We're joining now by - we're joined now by NPR's Greg Allen. And Greg, tell us what we know about what happened today.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Well, Audie, it started today around 1:00 o'clock. And what happened is that a shooter started firing his pistol, his gun in - around the baggage claim in Terminal 2, as you say. It created pandemonium. We had many people shot. I think it was 13 people shot in all.

Authorities say five people died. Eight were wounded. Five actually went to the hospital and received care. They're all in stable condition. So that's the good news on it. But it was pandemonium there. It's led to the - Terminal 2 being evacuated and the whole airport being shut down. And as you say, people are still out on airplanes and still leaving the airport this late hour.

CORNISH: We've been hearing some detail over the hour about the suspect. Where's that coming from? What more do we know about him?

ALLEN: Well, we're getting it from various sources. Esteban Santiago was a member of the - of various military - of the National Guards and the U.S. Army. He was - grew up in Puerto Rico, served there in the National Guard, was in the Army, served in Iraq, later was in Alaska. And he was with the Alaskan Army National Guard.

He was released in - he - his term ended there in August of last year, and he released - was released at a time under issues that were what they called poor performance and in case - in fact some strange behaviors. He was AWOL on a number of occasions, didn't show up for drills. And there was some discussion that he was not - that he actually had some mental issues. That's what we get from various sources.

And what that has to do with the shooting, it's hard to say at this point. We don't know what he was doing in Florida. We do believe that he arrived on a flight with a bag - with a gun in a checked bag. He took the gun out of the checked bag, loaded it in the bathroom and came out and started firing.

CORNISH: So just to be clear, it was in his checked luggage, and then he opened fire at that baggage claim.

ALLEN: That's right. And why that baggage claim? What led up to that? There's no sense at this point. He fired for some time. It's hard to know how many bullets were fired. Authorities say they didn't fire at him at all.

He surrendered, basically threw himself on the ground spread-eagled and was apprehended once he'd finished firing without incident. And they have him in custody, and he's being interrogated by the FBI and the Broward Sheriff's Department.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Greg Allen with more detail about the shooting in - at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. Greg, thanks so much.

ALLEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.