Flowers, tears for shooting victims
Five white roses were placed at the airport terminal in Broward County on Friday in honor of the victims who lost their lives in the mass shooting one week ago.
Shortly before 1 p.m., Broward County officials held a moment of reflection inside Terminal 2 at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport where a suspected gunman fatally shot five people on Jan. 6.
The baggage claim area where the shooting took place reopened Friday afternoon with new carpeting and painted ceiling tiles. There was no physical sign that it was a mass murder scene just one week earlier, except for a sign that alerted the public that it could leave memorial items on a table.
Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief and Elder John Brush with the Broward Church of Christ spoke.
“The hearts of all of us in South Florida, and I believe all around the world, share in the pain in these inexplicable losses that occurred in just a few seconds that day,” Brush said.
Sharief read the names of the five people who were killed.
“It is a hard thing to understand and accept that five innocent people lost their lives over a senseless act of evil. ...,” she said. “Those five roses represent five people that were killed for no apparent reason.”
The ceremony concluded with the song “God Bless the USA,” leaving many people, including workers who were at the airport during the shooting, in tears.
Airport workers, law enforcement and county personnel gathered for the brief ceremony, some wearing pins stating #FLLstrong.
William White, a TSA agent who was in the terminal at the time of the shooting, teared up at the memorial. Just before the shooting, he was walking from a secured area in the airport toward the bathroom when he heard the shots fired.
White said that his heart is filled with compassion for the families who lost someone and “also filled with a lot of love.”
Army National Guard vet Esteban Santiago landed at Fort Lauderdale early on the afternoon of Jan. 6 with a checked semiautomatic handgun. He picked up his case at the Terminal 2 carousel and walked into the men’s room, where investigators suspect Santiago loaded the weapon. Then he returned to the baggage claim area and pulled the trigger, killing five and injuring six others. He was taken into custody within 90 seconds of the shooting by the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
He had his first court appearance Monday and faces a possible death penalty or life imprisonment.