FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (RNN) – Five people are dead, eight are hospitalized and a suspect is in custody after a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Officials have identified the alleged shooter as Esteban Santiago, 26, who carried a military ID. Multiple news sources report he was born in New Jersey. He boarded the plane in Alaska.
The Broward County sheriff would not confirm the shooter’s identity, the condition of the wounded, or the type of weapon used. But CBS tweeted a photo they claimed was believed to be the the one used in the airport shooting.
He said there is no known motive, and the investigation is in the early stages. FBI and local law enforcement are interviewing the suspect and witnesses, he said. It is too early to know if there was a link to terrorism, but Israel said the FBI will determine and report if one is found.
The suspect took a weapon out of a checked bag, loaded it in a bathroom and returned to the scene where he opened fire. He declared the gun in his checked bag, and carried it legally, CNN reported. Unloaded firearms and ammo may be transported in checked baggage, but must be secured in locked, hard-sided containers, the TSA reported. Magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins also may be carried in checked luggage.
Bryan Santiago, the brother of Esteban Santiago, told the Associated Press that the suspect had received psychological treatment in Alaska. Bryan Santiago did not know the nature of the treatment.
CNN reported that he got into an altercation with some passengers on the plane.
A witness who was in a wheelchair because he had recently had back situation said the situation was confusing as it unfolded.
“I didn’t hear the initial shots,” he said. “I heard the commotion and heard the people. I thought maybe just a fight or something had broken out …”
He said his mother called asking what was going on, and he had no idea.
“Not five minutes later people came running down the hall screaming gun, gunman was coming.” he said. “So everybody ran. Luggage flying, purses flying. I cant’ move very fast … so I got up and and started hobbling.”
Another witness heard the shots and knew immediately that something was wrong.
“I was in line waiting, just about to step through the screening area when he heard the shots and there were people running behind us and screaming,” Nigel Nelson said. “Security personnel screaming, run, run, run, run, run, so we ran.”
He said flight attendants let them out onto the tarmac where they waiting for about an hour until they got an update on what was going on.
About two hours after the suspect surrendered, unsubstantiated reports of a second gunman panicked hundreds of passengers and employees who had been evacuated to the tarmac and others still in the terminal. Israel said there was no second shooter and no law enforcement had reported additional shots fired.
The findings came after a search.
Passenger Erik Whiteside said most of the people on his flight were at the baggage claim when the shooting started, but he was delayed because he had small children.
He rounded a corner and heard shots.
“We ran out to the tarmac and hid behind some luggage carts,” he told CNN.
Whiteside said officials let people back into the terminal, and then he saw armed personnel running about 20 minutes later. People started running in the opposite direction.
Deputies first responded to a call of shots fired at 12:55 p.m. ET. The Broward Sheriff’s office tweeted that the upper level of the airport re-opened at about 2 p.m. ET. About a half-hour later panic erupted when people said they heard more shots, including a witness talking live to CNN.
CNN broadcast live video of people running wildly out of the terminal and across the tarmac. The Fort Lauderdale mayor called for calm and said that was part of the evacuation procedure.
Witness Gene Messina said he was waiting for his friends to get off a plane around 12:50 p.m. when the shooting happened.
“All of a sudden I heard screaming and running, people coming from security, yelling ‘he has a gun, he has a gun!’” Messina said to the Sun-Sentinel.
The airport will remain closed until further notice.
READ MORE: Cleveland19.com
Article Courtesy of WOIO Cleveland 19 News
Picture Courtesy of the Sun Sentinel and Getty Images
Tweet and First Video Courtesy of Twitter, CBS News, and WOIO Cleveland 19 News
Second Video Courtesy of CBS News and YouTube