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Esteban Santiago Identified as Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
tateyama / Shutterstock.com
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Many media outlets are reporting that Esteban Santiago, age 26, is the gunman who fired shots today at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, killing at least five and injuring eight.

In an MSNBC interview, Sen. Bill Nelson identified Santiago as the shooter and said he was carrying a military ID. Broward Sheriff Scott Israel says the gunman was taken into custody without incident:

In a news conference Friday afternoon, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declined to confirm the identity of the gunman or any other details about the mass shooting. Scott said he had called President-elect Donald Trump but had not reached out to current President Barack Obama. He encouraged those watching to pray for the victims still in the hospital.

Other sources reported Friday that Santiago was born March 16, 1990. There is no criminal record for anyone of that name with that birth date in Florida, according to state records. Some reports said he was born in New Jersey and now living in the Naples area.

Court records from Alaska, where Santiago reportedly lived for a time, show he was charged with criminal mischief and assault by words on January 10, 2016. The assault charge was dismissed by the prosecution in March, and it appears Santiago entered into a deferred sentencing agreement for the criminal mischief charge.

Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca posted on Facebook that the shooter was a passenger on a Canadian flight and had a weapon in his checked baggage. "He claimed his bag and took the gun from baggage and went into the bathroom to load it," LaMarca wrote. "Came out shooting people in baggage claim. There were 13 total shot, 5 dead, 8 transported to hospital."

WPLG Local 10 reported the gunman traveled from Alaska to Minneapolis and then to Fort Lauderdale on an Air Canada flight. However, Air Canada tweeted, "We confirm we have no record of a passenger by the name Esteban Santiago, or checked guns, on any of our flights to Fort Lauderdale #FLL."

As of 2:30 p.m., multiple witnesses were reporting additional shots had been fired at the airport. During an afternoon news conference, Sheriff Israel said there was no confirmation of a second shooting. He said some people might have been handcuffed while authorities tried to determine who they were.

The sheriff said the gunman was arrested "almost immediately" by a Broward Sheriff's deputy and that the motive is unknown. Asked if the shooting is a terrorist incident, he said, "It's too early to say either way on that."

Officials with the sheriff's office and FBI are interviewing the gunman, he added.

Authorities received a call about the shooting just before 1 p.m. and responded immediately. The eight wounded victims are being treated at Broward Health Medical Center.

Services at the airport were immediately suspended. As of 3 p.m., some planes still had passengers onboard, an airport official said. Hundreds of people walked out of the airport as traffic was snarled for miles. Others were herded into a gift shop.

Thousands of flights throughout the region have been delayed or diverted. Flights destined for Fort Lauderdale are being held at their origin airports, the Federal Aviation Administration tweeted. A spokesman for Southwest told New Times all flights in or out of Fort Lauderdale have been canceled today.

One passenger said her plane landed at about 2:30 p.m. and had not moved as of 5 p.m. Sarah Ramos, who flew from Puerto Rico to Fort Lauderdale and was headed to Baltimore, said the pilot announced that the passengers would have to stay on the plane. She found out why after the plane landed and passengers checked their cellphones.

The airport will not reopen until it is confirmed safe, officials said. The county has set up an information hotline for passengers and their family members at 866-435-9355.

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