Fox News among other sources have reported that a deadly shooting has occurred at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale.
The shooting took place around 1 p.m. local time and a suspect is in custody. The city’s mayor said there was only one shooter involved.
Scenes broadcast on television showed hundreds of evacuated passengers and airport workers on the tarmac of the runways.
Ari Fleischer, press secretary to George W. Bush, was in the airport at the time of the shooting and tweeted that “everyone is running”:
I'm at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Shots have been fired. Everyone is running.
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) January 6, 2017
Details on the number of casualties remain sketchy at this point, and no motive for the shootings has been identified.
Seven minutes ago, station WSVN released a video report, which follows:
*UPDATE* 2:53 p.m ET: CBS News now confirms that 5 people are reported dead and 8 injured. The network also reports that the airport is locked down and there appears to be an active shooting situation in multiple terminals.
The suspect in custody has been identified as Esteban Santiago, a resident of New Jersey. He is said to be wearing a military uniform.
This is a developing story. Updates will be added as new information becomes available.
*UPDATE 2* 9:30 EST: Additional background is emerging on the shooter, 26-year-old Esteban Santiago-Ruiz of New Jersey. A former National Guard and Reserve soldier who deployed to Iraq in 2010, he reportedly had significant mental problems, and very recently. In November 2016, he went to the FBI in Anchorage, AK, where he had been living with his girlfriend since 2014, and told them he thought the government was forcing him to “watch videos for ISIS.”
The FBI questioned him, and turned him over to local police, who got him a psych evaluation. Obviously, the results of that and other privacy-protected information about Santiago can’t be released to the public. But if he thought the government was forcing him to do things for ISIS, it’s a good bet something real was wrong.
How this guy was allowed to board a commercial flight with a declared firearm — his only luggage — is a really good question. The concept of the no-fly list would seem tailor-made for a situation like this one.
Granted, the time elapsed since November has been short, and the wheels of something like getting a mentally disturbed, ISIS-linked person on a no-fly/no-carry list would normally turn comparatively slowly. (It would, and should, take a court process, at the very least.) But if we have that frigging no-fly list for anything, it ought to be something like this. How are we putting 9-year-olds and blameless elected officials on it, and not Esteban Santiago?
An interesting photo of him has emerged on social media. Maybe he had to be “forced” to do things for ISIS, but he’s wearing an olive-drab keffiyeh and flashing a pointed index finger, a hand signal frequently used by ISIS jihadis in images.
The National Guard gave him a general discharge for unsatisfactory performance in August 2016. That’s common for the discharge of service members who have legitimate mental problems; it’s a discharge under honorable circumstances, but conveys that there was something wrong.