UK

Olga Woltering, British Great-Grandmother, Among Florida Airport Shooting Victims

She was originally from Ipswich.

08/01/2017 11:23 GMT | Updated 08/01/2017 11:31 GMT

A British great-grandmother was one of five people gunned down by a former US soldier at a Florida airport.

Olga Woltering, who was in her eighties, has been revealed as one of those killed in the mass shooting at the transport hub in Fort Lauderdale on Friday night, reports the Press Association.

Mrs Woltering, reportedly originally from Ipswich, Suffolk, lived in Atlanta with her husband Ralph, a former US Air Force serviceman.

Facebook

The couple are believed to have travelled from their home in Georgia to go on a cruise.

The Catholic Church of the Transfiguration in Cobb County, Georgia, which Mr Woltering had been a member of since 1978, said she was “so charming, calling everybody ‘Lovey’ or ‘Love’ in her unmistakable British accent”.

Father Fernando Molina-Restrepo said: “Olga was one of the most joyful, loving, caring and committed people I have ever met. This is a horrible tragedy for everyone here at Transfiguration, especially because Olga was so loved.

“Olga and Ralph have been members of our Transfiguration Family since October 1978.

“May God give consolation to all of the victims of this tragedy and may God give eternal rest to those who died. Especially to our beloved Olga. Peace.”

Esteban Santiago, 26, a former National Guard soldier from Alaska and an Iraq War veteran, is accused of carrying out the bloody killing, which also left six people injured.

Friends who attended church with Mrs Woltering spoke of their shock and horror at her killing on social media.

Jerry De Varennes wrote: “Tragedy hit too close to home today. Transfiguration Church lost a very loving and caring woman in the Ft Lauderdale airport attack. Prayers lifted up for the soul of Olga Woltering and her family. Prayers also lifted up for a crazy and cruel world.”

Virginia Moran added: “So very sad, Olga’s ever present smile was infectious and brightened any day, she will be deeply missed and my prayers are with Ralph, her family, all those she touched, and all who were impacted by yesterday’s senseless action.”

Diane Friesen said: “Dear Ralph, wish there was something we could do to take away your pain. Olga was loved so much. Our hearts are broken.

“I’ll always remember how she would say in her English accent, ‘hello love’.”

On Saturday authorities charged Santiago with committing an act of violence at an international airport resulting in death, which carries the death penalty or a prison sentence up to life.

He was also charged with two firearms offences and will appear in court on Monday.

It came as authorities in the US revealed more about the alleged shooter, who is alleged to have travelled to Fort Lauderdale specifically to carry out the shooting.

The FBI said Santiago had a gun confiscated after walking into the law enforcement agency’s office in Anchorage, Alaska, in a distressed state.

However, it was returned to him in December after he underwent mental health checks.

They did not say if it was the same gun as used in the attack at the airport.

The attack happened in the baggage reclaim area just before 1pm local time, the Fort Lauderdale sheriff’s office said.