Review of response to Fort Lauderdale airport shooting finds number of failures by BSO

Broward County officials claim report is inaccurate

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A review of the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting highlights a number of failures by the Broward Sheriff's Office in response to the deadly attack that happened earlier this year. 

When gunman Esteban Santiago opened fire Jan. 6 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, killing five people, he ran out of ammo and surrendered 85 seconds later. But chaos ensued for hours afterward.

Two days after the attack, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told Local 10 News that the law enforcement response to the shooting was excellent.

"We worked together seamlessly," he said. "It was a really positive day for law enforcement."

But now a report draft from Israel's own agency contradicts that, finding that BSO failed to create a unified command structure during the emergency, suffered from poor radio communication and set up an insufficient crime scene perimeter, among other faults.

But it left even harsher criticism for county aviation officials, claiming that they clashed with BSO, refused to turn over blueprints and placed revenues over safety when they kept Terminal 2 running.

"There are serious statements in that report that are not backed up," Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said.

Sharief and other county officials said the BSO report was rife with falsehoods.

"There was never a request for blueprints that was denied," Sharief said.

Commissioner Mark Bogen also blasted the report.

"They basically said the airport staff clashed with law enforcement, refused to hand over blueprints and didn't close Terminal 2. I don't believe that is accurate. Whoever did the report, I don't believe had all the accurate facts," he said.

Israel refused to comment to Local 10 News and BSO provided no explanation for the allegations against the airport staff, but Sharief said the sheriff has a history of grandstanding at budget time and might be trying to use the report as leverage for more BSO funds.

"We're in the middle of coming up with what we're going to spend next year, and while it's distasteful, we would hope no one would ever release a report like that for that purpose, but we've seen it coincidentally many times around budget cycle," Sharief said.

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