An Army veteran from Alaska is in custody after a Friday shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport left five people dead and eight injured, authorities say.
Esteban Santiago, 26, flew from Anchorage to the Twin Cities where he boarded a Delta flight on Thursday night, the Miami Herald reports. Investigators say he pulled a semiautomatic handgun from his luggage in the baggage claim area and opened fire, then surrendered to law enforcement when he finished shooting.
The Herald says Santiago is a decorated veteran of the Iraq war who had been getting mental health treatment recently.
The sheriff's office says it received a call around 12:55 p.m. (eastern time) that there was a shooting at the airport. The airport tweeted about an "ongoing incident" in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2, which is home to Delta and Air Canada airlines, according to the airport's website.
Ari Fleischer, a White House spokesman under George W. Bush, tweeted just before 1 p.m. (eastern time) that he was at the airport and "everyone is running." Less than 15 minutes later, Fleischer tweeted saying "all seems calm now but the police aren't letting anyone out of the airport – at least not where I am."
A Broward County Commissioner on Facebook said the shooter arrived on a flight from Canada with a checked gun. He then claimed his bag, took the gun out in the bathroom, and came out shooting.
Authorities during a news conference said it's too early to say if it was a terrorist attack.
Mark Lea, a businessman from Minnesota who said he witnessed the shooting, told MSNBC the shooter fired off about three magazines, then dropped the weapon and laid on the floor until officers arrived, according to reporter Brian Westbrook.
During the attack, bystanders escaped to the airport's tarmac.
About two hours later, the sheriff's office said there was an active search after "unconfirmed reports" of another shooting on airport property, but that turned out to be false.
Ground stop at FLL
Travelers are urged to contact their airline about flight information. Delta Airlines said in a news release it will be offering a waiver so travelers can change their plans without a penalty, just visit Delta.com for more information. The airline also said it appears all Delta employees are "safe and accounted for."
In November 2016, nearly 2.5 million people traveled through the airport's four terminals, a traffic report shows. In 2015, FLL was the 21st busiest airport in the United States based on passenger traffic, the airport's website says, noting it is one of the fastest-growing airports in the country.