Broward County

Fort Lauderdale airport reopens after deadly shooting

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport reopened at 5 a.m. less than 24 hours after a devastating shooting that left five dead and eight injured.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport reopened at 5 a.m. less than 24 hours after a devastating shooting that left five dead and eight injured. nnehamas@miamiherald.com

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport reopened at 5 a.m., less than 24 hours after a devastating shooting that left five dead and six injured.

Many flights were delayed, canceled or rerouted but some normal operations have resumed. The lower level of Terminal 2, where military veteran Esteban Santiago opened fire Friday, remains closed as of 8:45 a.m. The upper level reopened around 8 a.m.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport reopened at 5 a.m. less than 24 hours after a devastating shooting that left five dead and six injured. Many flights were delayed, canceled or rerouted but some normal operations have resumed. The lo

Initially, officials said eight people were injured in the shooting. On Saturday, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said six people were injured, not eight.

Passengers are advised to get to the airport early, as wait times and security lines are expected to be longer than usual.

Early Saturday morning, passengers lined up outside the doors of Terminals 1, 3 and 4 to catch flights. At Terminal 4, where discount carrier Spirit flies, lines stretched out the door for hundreds of feet, and travelers at the front of the queue said they had been waiting for 90 minutes.

Sam Butler of Pennsylvania returned to the airport early Saturday to catch a connecting flight for a church mission to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

He and many members of his group spent the night at a Red Cross shelter at Port Everglades.

The chaos was unreal on Friday, he said, as law enforcement tried to shepherd passengers to safety.

“It was like nothing I had ever seen before,” Butler said.

Some passengers criticized the official response to the crisis, even as they acknowledge a difficult emergency situation.

Gregg Myers of Texas said he was in Terminal 3 when he saw a crowd of people surging toward him.

“It was a bull rush,” Myers said. “We took off running like everybody else.”

But he said airport staff vanished and travelers were left with no guidance.

“The only people around were passengers and janitors, he said.

Stiff from a night on a concrete floor at the Port Everglades shelter and stuck the next morning in a massive line outside Terminal 4, Myers worried that he would miss his flight up north to see the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Miami Dolphins in the NFL playoffs.

“This is on my bucket list, man,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to get there.”

German tourist Uwe Gnasnick and his wife and young daughter hid behind benches in Terminal 1 when passengers shouted to get down.

Now, like many other travelers, they are trying to figure out how to retrieve the two carry-on bags they abandoned in Friday’s panic.

More than 20,000 bags remain in the hands of authorities.

“Thank God we have our credit cards and passports,” Gnasnick said.

Four of the family’s checked bags are en route to Seattle, where they will fly later Saturday. But airport officials were unable to tell them how to retrieve their carry-ons.

In a tweet, the airport said it is collecting and processing bags, calling the endeavor a “time consuming and complex process.”

It promised more details soon.

“Nobody knows what’s going on,” Gnasnick’s wife Anita said.

Rob Gruendell of Salt Lake City is in the same boat. His backpack, which has his cellphone tucked away in a pocket, is being held by authorities.

After the shooting, Gruendell said, “I had to borrow someone else’s phone to let my family know I was okay.”

Debbie Ludwig’s flight back from the United Kingdom was diverted to Miami International Airport. She and her two children took an Uber to Fort Lauderdale airport Saturday morning to pick up their car.

“It’s a lot of inconvenience for everyone traveling but it’s dreadful for the families that lost someone,” she said.

Passengers missing luggage are being asked to call the Broward County Call Center at 866-435-9355, according to airport employees.

Missing luggage

Passengers missing luggage are being asked to call the Broward County Call Center at 866-435-9355, according to airport employees.

  Comments