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Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting Kills Five People And Injures Eight

A suspect is in custody.

06/01/2017 18:59 GMT | Updated 06/01/2017 22:01 GMT

Five people have been killed by a lone gunman at a Florida airport in an attack that also injured eight people.

The attack took place just before 1pm local time on Friday in the baggage claim area at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The gunman had his weapon in his hand luggage.

Broward County Sheriff’s said one person was in custody. Police said the suspect was unharmed and no one from law enforcement fired any shots during the incident.

They also said eight people were hospitalised. Bill Nelson, a US Senator from Florida, identified the man arrested as Esteban Santiago.

Sun Sentinel via Getty Images
Shooting victims are unloaded from an emergency vehicle after shooting

“He was a lone shooter and we have no evidence at this time that he was acting with anyone else,” Mayor Barbara Sharief told CNN.

Mark Lea, a witness to the shooting, told CBS News that the attack appeared to be random. The suspect was “not screaming anything, not shouting anything,” Lea said. “He was just picking off things like target practice.”

Gina Erpardo and her family were waiting for their flight home to Detroit, Michigan, after a cruise to the Bahamas when the shooting broke out.

Erpardo, 39, was eating hamburgers with her husband and two sons one level above the baggage claim when she heard the gunshots.

“First I heard screaming and everybody was running like crazy in a panic,” Erpardo told The Huffington Post. “While I was trying to understand what was going on, I heard shots.”

Erpardo says she and her husband immediately lay down on top of their 5-year-old and 10-year-old sons to protect them.

Lynne Sladky/AP
People on the tarmac at the airport
Lynne Sladky/AP
Police officers stand on the perimeter road along the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

She said the first thought she had was of the Istanbul nightclub attack that left at least 39 dead just days ago.

“At that moment, I was lying down on my five-year-old son, and I was just trying to protect him because I thought somebody was going to come with a gun and shoot everyone,” Erpardo said.

The family was led outside to the tarmac by airport staff, where 200 to 300 others are being held until police clear the area, Erpardo said.

She said her sons are still shaking from fear, but everyone in the family is physically unharmed.

Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary, tweeted from the scene as the news broke.

As the first reports of the shooting came in, he tweeted “everyone is running”

Later he said it was “calm” but the police were not letting anyone leave the airport.

A video shared from inside the airport showed people huddled on the ground and crying.

At the end of the footage, at least one woman could be seen bleeding on the ground.

“The casings were flying all around us,” one woman says in the video.

Videos and images from the airport also showed people waiting outside on the tarmac.

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A video posted by Gene Messina (@gmessina121) on

The airport, which is about 21 miles north of Miami, is shut down.

Miami Airport said it would boost its security as a precaution after the shooting.