62ºF

10K travelers face chaos at Fort Lauderdale airport after shooting

After nightmarish afternoon, airport reopens at 5 a.m.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – After a horrific shooting, about 10,000 were trapped at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday and Saturday morning. The airport shut down with incoming flights diverted and outgoing flights held on the ground. 

Airport Director Mark Gale said they were using buses overnight to take the airport's stranded travelers to the Port Everglades cruise ship terminal. The airport was set to re-open at 5 a.m., Saturday, but Gale urged travelers to check for their flight status with their airlines. 

Authorities will keep the terminal where the shooting happened closed on Saturday. Delta Air Lines announced early Saturday morning that they were scheduling flights out of airports in Miami and West Palm Beach. 

When the chaos ensued, some had to hide for cover, walk for miles and get treated like suspects. Some didn't have access to water or food for hours. Others were trapped in planes without proper ventilation. Despite the panic and chaos they experienced, most travelers said they were grateful.

Airport employees moved into terminals 1, 3 and 4 to collect and secure the luggage and belongings of thousands of people who ran out for safety. Passengers who left their belongings at terminal 2 will have to wait until authorities complete their investigation. 

Esteban Santiago, who flew into Fort Lauderdale, was accused of killing five and wounding eight. The 26-year-old war veteran had a history of mental illness and had asked authorities for help. 

At least 30 were injured in the aftermath, according to Broward Sheriff Scott Israel. Some suffered scrapes, bruises and broken bones, while running for their lives. There were rumors of more shooters, so many travelers sent goodbye messages to their loved ones. 

Israel said there was a team effort to help to get thousands of people out of the airport. The Red Cross was among the agencies helping the stranded travelers. 

Authorities were asking relatives to call The Broward County Call Center for information at 1-866-435-9355. The line was open overnight and on Saturday.