Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport Shooting


 [ot-caption title=”The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport recently experienced a tragic shooting. (via Maarten Visser, Wikimedia)”]

On Friday January 6, 2017 in the early afternoon, a mass shooting occurred at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, just 15 minutes away from Pine Crest School. The shooter, identified as Esteban Santiago, had legally checked a nine mm handgun into luggage. After arriving on his Delta flight from Minneapolis, he allegedly took out the weapon from his waistband in Terminal 2 baggage claim, where he began shooting until he ran out of ammunition. According to witnesses, Santiago placed his gun down and put his hands up afterwards, waiting for the police to take him; the whole shooting occurred in 90 seconds. After Santiago was arrested, police and paramedics flooded the area immediately and all departing flights were shut down, while the flights to Fort Lauderdale were rerouted or canceled. [spacer height=”20px”]

This shooting resulted in the deaths of five people, and several other injuries. President Obama, President-Elect Trump, Florida Governor Rick Scott, and other figureheads expressed their condolences regarding the victims. [spacer height=”20px”]

The shooter, Esteban Santiago, is a 26 year-old US citizen born in New Jersey who spent most of his life in Puerto Rico. A resident of Alaska, Santiago had also been a military veteran. He joined the Puerto Rico National Guard before serving in the Iraq War as a combat engineer. He then served in the Alaska Army National Guard, before being discharged. Federal officials and family confirmed that he had become mentally ill and was undergoing treatment for his mental health problems. It was stated that Santiago heard voices in his head telling him to commit an act of violence, resulting in the airport shooting. The federal charges against Esteban Santiago are either going to be death or life imprisonment. [spacer height=”20px”]

The impact of this tribulation was not just seen on the families of those hurt during the incident, but also affected Pine Crest Panthers who were in the area at the time or knew someone who was. Pine Crest Alumnus Class of 2014, Sid Jain, shares his thoughts on the incident.

“I had a flight that day. Luckily it was in the evening, but, of course, I got nervous. I express my deepest condolences to those injured and those who lost loved ones during this tragic incident,” Jain said. [spacer height=”20px”]

This shooting was particularly significant for PC students because of the school’s relative proximity to the airport and its popularity as the airport for students.  Sophomore Sarah Rodriguez discussed her opinions on the tragedy.

“I found the shooting to be extremely sad and it hits close to home because we are not too far from the airport, and it was so unexpected. I’m very sorry for the families that were affected by it,” Rodriquez said. [spacer height=”20px”]

That week, many PC alumni were heading back to college, and some were even at the airport at the time of the shooting. Eliza Moldow (PC ’16) went through TSA security and had boarded the plane at the time, but she was still very scared when she realized what was occurring.

“It was just a crazy experience because you never think you’ll be around when something like that happens, so it was definitely scary to be there. It almost didn’t feel real,” Eliza said.

She was with another PC alumnus, Siobhan Boroian (PC ’15), also heading back to Vanderbilt University. Eliza comments on how surreal the events were because the incident was so close to home.

“It was especially scary because Fort Lauderdale Airport normally feels so secure and small and like home, so it was unsettling to know something like that happened there,” Eliza said.

On January 6, many families and locals were tremendously affected by this tragic shooting. People want such incidents to be prevented as much as possible and after any incident like this, security is ramped up in large airports around the nation. This was the largest mass shooting of 2017, a wakeup call for another gun control conversation in the new year.

Sources: CNN, Washington Post, Sun Sentinel, NBC News  Photo: Maarten Visser