Watch CBS News

CBS News: Gunman Who Killed 5 People At Fort Lauderdale Airport Born In New Jersey

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CBS/AP) — A gunman opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday, killing five people and wounding eight before being taken into custody, officials said. The attack spread panic and sent passengers streaming from the airport.

CBS News reports the suspect, identified as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago-Ruiz, is in custody. They say he was carrying a military ID and was born in New Jersey.

According to CBS Miami, Santiago-Ruiz's previous known addresses were in Penvelas, Puerto Rico and Anchorage, Alaska. He also has a minor criminal history.

CBS News reports that Santiago-Ruiz walked into an FBI office in Anchorage and told them that he was "being forced to fight for ISIS." Sources also tell CBS News that the suspected gunman was investigated for child pornography in 2011 or 2012, but that there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

Bryan Santiago, the brother of the suspected gunman, told The Associated Press that Esteban Santiago had been receiving psychological treatment in Alaska.

He said his family got a call in recent months from Esteban Santiago-Ruiz's girlfriend alerting them to the situation.

He said he didn't know what his brother was being treated for and that they never talked about it over the phone.

He said Esteban Santiago-Ruiz was born in New Jersey but moved to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico when he was 2 years old. He said Esteban Santiago-Ruiz grew up in the southern coastal town of Penuelas and served with the island's National Guard for a couple of years. He was deployed to Iraq in 2010 and spent a year there with the 130th Engineer Battalion, the 1013th engineer company out of Aguadilla, according to Puerto Rico National Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Dahlen.

Police are at the Union City, New Jersey, home of a relative of the alleged gunman.

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief told CBS News that officials "believe that it's a lone shooter" and could not rule out terrorism.

The shooting occurred in the Terminal 2 baggage claim area.

At least 13 others were injured and taken to a local hospital, officials say.

A witness told CBS News the deadly shooting only took 45 seconds. Another witness told CBS Miami that the gunman was wearing a "Star Wars" shirt.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the shooting by his Homeland Security adviser. President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that he is "monitoring the situation" and he has spoken to Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

News helicopters hovering over the scene showed hundreds of people standing on the tarmac early Friday afternoon as an ambulance drove by and numerous law enforcement officers rushed to the scene.

One person tweeted a picture of a victim who was shot.

"I saw a man with a woman bleeding profusely," witness Mike Starobinsky told CBS News. "There was a trail of blood leading from one of the doors outside."

Witness Mark Lea told CBS News that the shooter was "picking off things like target practice."

"Just random shooting, no rhyme or reason to what he was doing. Was not yelling anything, was not screaming anything, just randomly shot people here and there," Lea said.

Lea added that the gunman threw down his weapon and lay spread-eagle on the ground until he was taken into custody.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said the gunman was not injured.

"No law enforcement fired any shots," Israel said.

Israel said that it's "too early to say either way" if the shooting was terror related.

Israel also added that it appears the gunman acted alone and that there was no second shooter.

Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca said that the gunman was a passenger on a flight from Canada with a checked gun, but Air Canada says there is no record of the suspect on one of their flights.

Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer tweeted that he was at the airport when shots were fired and "everyone is running."

Jillian Saunders, from Palm Beach, Florida, told The Associated Press in direct Twitter messages that she was watching the activity from the tarmac in a plane scheduled to fly to Los Angeles.

"Everything you see on the news is happening outside my window," she said. "I am luckily on the plane and they said we are right now the safest people at the airport."

A witness who lives in South Jersey described what happened at the airport to CBS Philly.

"Gotta turn phone off for battery but clearly not under control. We were sitting in Terminal 4 when they said solo gunman was in custody. Not long after that, people from the terminal next to us started running and TSA personnel, airport personnel, and hundreds of scared people started stampeding towards us screaming to run," the witness said. "I saw people outside and started running towards the gate that was letting people onto the tarmac. Never ran so fast in my life. People were being trampled. Now we're outside hiding."

Jackie Zimmerman, who was on the tarmac, tweeted a picture of a rainbow that formed over the airport following the shooting.

Airport officials said on the airport's website that it was suspending flights. Earlier in the day, the Federal Aviation Administration regulated the pace of flights because of heavy volume after morning fog. According to tracking service FlightAware, about 60 flights to and from Fort Lauderdale were delayed and fewer than a dozen canceled before the shooting.

Miami International Airport said they are taking "extra security measures" out of an "abundance of caution."

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.