Gunman kills five at Florida’s Ft Lauderdale airport

At least five dead and eight wounded in shooting attack at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

A shooting victim is unloaded from an emergency vehicle and taken into a health centre after shots were fired at Florida's Ft. Lauderdale airport[Getty Images]

At least five people have been shot dead and eight others wounded in a shooting incident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in the US state of Florida.

Florida’s Broward County Sheriff’s office confirmed Friday’s shooting in an update on Twitter. The sheriff’s office also stated that a suspect has been taken into custody. 

“The gunman has been identified as a 26-year-old American born Esteban Santiago,” Al Jazeera’s Tom Ackerman, reporting from Washington DC, said. 

After claiming his bag, the man reportedly “emptied his luggage outside the baggage claim area, loaded his hand gun” and started shooting at random, Ackerman added. 

Officials gave no possible motive for the shooting inside Terminal 2, which serves Delta Air Lines and Air Canada.

“At this point, it looks like he acted alone,” Sheriff Scott Israel said. Nonetheless, he said “this scene is considered fluid and active” as police search the rest of the airport.

Authorities received a call about shots being fired at around 12:55 pm local time (1755 GMT).

Shortly after, there were false reports of additional shots being fired in the airport, causing the police to order people to shelter in place. 

“You could see people scurrying across the tarmac and taxiways on the other side of the airport. Right now those people are still in place. They have not had an all clear,” said Ackerman. 

The airport remains shut. Planes scheduled to land at Fort Lauderdale have been diverted to other airports in Florida.

All eight of the wounded have been transferred to a hospital for medical attention.

As the events unfolded, Ari Fleischer, a previous press secretary for former US President George W Bush, said on Twitter that shots were fired and “everyone is running”.

Fleischer later said: “All seems calm now but the police aren’t letting anyone out of the airport – at least not the area where I am.” 

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is the second largest in South Florida, serving as an intercontinental gateway, with Miami International Airport known as the primary airport for international flights in the area.

The deadliest mass shooting in modern US history took place last June, when a gunman apparently inspired by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group killed 49 people and wounded 53 at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

One of the most shocking was in 2012, when a man entered an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and shot dead 20 first-graders and six adults.

Timeline of shootings across the United States

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies