A shooting at Fort Lauderdale airport in Florida has killed five people, with authorities describing the crime scene as “fluid and active”, according to reports. Eight people were also injured, but it is not known how seriously they were wounded.
The city’s mayor has said a lone gunman was responsible and that he had been taken into custody unharmed and without incident. Authorities have identified the suspected shooter as Esteban Santiago, who is from the US state of Alaska.
The 26-year-old was carrying military ID when he was arrested, and he is an Army National Guard veteran who had served in Iraq. According to his brother, Santiago had recently been receiving psychological treatment.
A military spokeswoman has said Santiago had been discharged from the Army National Guard last August for unsatisfactory performance. Local officials had initially claimed that the shooter had travelled from Canada.
However, the Canadian embassy in Washington has since said this was not the case, as he had actually flown to Fort Lauderdale from the Alaskan city of Anchorage.
On Facebook, Broward County commissioner Chip LaMarca wrote the suspect had been carrying a gun in his luggage, adding: “He claimed his bag and took the gun from baggage and went into the bathroom to load it. Came out shooting people in baggage claim.”
Emergency services were called to the scene just before 1pm local time (6pm UK time).
About 90 minutes after the shooting, aerial footage showed fresh panic among passengers – with some running away from terminal one and across the tarmac.
There were unconfirmed reports of additional shots being fired, but Sheriff Scott Israel told a news conference: “At point there’s been no shooting any place else but downstairs in terminal two.”
Mr Israel said it was uncertain whether the shooting was an act of terror, and the suspect is now being interviewed by FBI agents and detectives. “At this point there is no second active shooter,” he added.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has been closed indefinitely, with no flights arriving or departing. Other airports in the state say their services are running as normal but with an increased police presence, while the Port of Miami has introduced enhanced security measures “out of an abundance of caution”.
Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary, said he was at the airport and “everyone was running” when shots were fired. Passengers who had already boarded their plane prior to take-off were told to stay in their seats.
Jillian Saunders, who was due to fly to Los Angeles, said: “Everything you see on the news is happening outside my window. I am luckily on the plane and they said we are right now the safest people at the airport.”
An airport director told reporters that between 80,000 and 100,000 passengers use the airport on any given day. The Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has travelled to the scene so he can be briefed by law enforcement officials.