Suspect traveled with gun in checked bag before killing 5 at Fort Lauderdale airport

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - At least five people are dead, and eight injured in a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

Esteban Santiago, with a military I.D., was identified as the shooter by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

Federal law enforcement officials said Friday night investigators have not ruled out the attack as an act of terrorism.

Authorities did not release the names of the victims as of Friday evening.

Authorities said Santiago was a member of the Alaska National Guard.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims of today’s shooting," Nelson said in a statement. "I have spoken with the federal authorities, and while we have authorized doubling the number of TSA canine teams to try to prevent tragedies like this, the fact is that wherever there are crowds, such as at our airports, we remain vulnerable to these types of attacks.

“While we don’t yet know the motive behind today’s shooting, we do know that the perpetrator is in custody, and that he will be brought to justice," he continued. "As investigators continue to learn more about what happened today and why, it’s important that we remain vigilant and continue to look for ways to better protect the traveling public from this kind of senseless attacks.”

A law enforcement official said the Florida airport gunman told the FBI in November that the government was controlling his mind and was forcing him to watch Islamic State group videos.

The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation by name and spoke Friday on condition of anonymity.

The official said agents in Anchorage completed their interview with 26-year-old Santiago and called the police, who took him for a mental health evaluation.

The FBI's Anchorage field office said in a statement that it was aware Santiago was an Anchorage resident and that it was assisting in the investigation, but it declined to comment further.

Police said Santiago was unharmed, and no shots were fired by law enforcement officers.

Authorities initially said Santiago traveled on a Delta Air Lines flight to Florida from Alaska, with a weapon in his checked bag.

It's unclear how long he waited in the baggage claim before opening fire.

Witnesses said Santiago said nothing.

Police said he surrendered without incident.

Within an hour of the shooting, people were seen running from the terminal - unconfirmed reports indicated the scene may not have been cleared. Police described the scene as "fluid."

Mayor Barbara Sarief said authorities were sweeping the airport, asking people to remain calm after unconfirmed reports claimed people heard additional shots fired.

Police confirmed there wasn't a second attack.

According to a spokesperson, the incident happened at terminal 2 in a baggage area.

Witnesses told reporters, "we heard the shots, just popping shots."

"I saw a man with a woman bleeding profusely and turning pale and just a trail of blood leaving from one of the doors, leading outside."

According to CNN, the shooter is in custody; he is believed to be the only suspect.

WARNING: Videos below contain graphic images

The airport was evacuated Friday afternoon.

People gathered on the tarmac to safety, where they were transported by bus to another location.

The Mayor of Fort Lauderdale said the airport would be shut down pending an investigation, though officials were attempting to move flights to operate at another terminal.

Donald Trump stated he had spoken to Florida Governor Rick Scott, telling people to "stay safe!"

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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