‘Pops,’ Then Chaos: Witnesses Describe Shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport

What to Know

  • 5 Dead, 8 injured in shooting
  • Gunman identified as Esteban Santiago, 26
  • Full ground stop at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Int'l Airport

John Schlicher had just pulled his first piece of luggage from the baggage carousel of Terminal 2  at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday when he started hearing "pops."

"The person right next to me fell to the ground," Schlicher, who had flown to Fort Lauderdale from Columbus, Ohio, told NBC News in a phone interview. "I turned around and a man with a black gun was right behind me and he started shooting randomly."

Schlicher survived the mid-day attack at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport that officials said left five dead and eight wounded.

"My wife and mother in law were traveling with me. Luckily none of us were injured," Schlicher said. "The two people to my left and the two people to my right were shot. There was blood everywhere. The people who were shot were shot in the head."

Schlicher said there appeared to be only one gunman and he looked like he was in his 30s.

"It's tragic. Just a horrible, horrible tragic scene. He was just randomly shooting at people," he said.

Others who were in the baggage area and other parts of the airport said it was pure chaos.

"It was like pop, pop, pop, pop, several. Then the herd of people just came running and at first you didn't know which way to go," said Debra Fugleberg. "Half my family was gone, and then they said lay down on the floor, I just did it."

"Everyone was running, TSA officers said 'run, run' and there was a loose shooter," Christian Cardozo said.

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