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Official: 5 Dead in Shooting at Ft. Lauderdale Airport; Confusion, Chaos on Ft Lauderdale Airport Tarmac; Interview with Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine; Sen. Bill Nelson Names Shooting Suspect; Interview with Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief; Passenger Stuck on Plane on Tarmac. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 6, 2017 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to tell our viewers, these are live pictures. Being totally transparent. I don't know what's going on. This is some kind of commotion on the tarmac. Passengers are rushing around to address whatever is happening.

This is all part of this group, including Judah, who is on the phone with me, who heard something happen within inside of the airport for them to rush out again.

Judah, I have one more question. Are you still with me?

JUDAH FERNANDEZ, WITNESS TO SHOOTING: Yes.

BALDWIN: Did the woman describe the gun?

FERNANDEZ: No, we got there, got inside, sat down for five minutes and she was crying and telling us her story, but didn't get very much. She was right there. And she heard three shots before she ran off. That was her -- what I heard from her, but now we're running away on the tarmac again.

BALDWIN: Did you hear -- did she say whether the shooter said or shouted anything?

FERNANDEZ: No. No. Nothing was confirmed on that.

BALDWIN: Do you see her by any chance? Is she still around?

FERNANDEZ: No, everyone is -- everyone ran in different directions. Everyone is kind of panicked right now. Even ran in different directions.

OK. You know what, this is kind of crazy.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Get off the phone with me, Judah. Get off the phone and go take care of your wife and child. Just wanted to have a better understanding.

Go ahead, Harry. HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You can see from the right side here people sitting behind something, being covered from I guess potential gunfire, so it looks like there's still potential threat there. He was asked whether or not he heard more shots and he said he heard shots. You always got to go on the fact that there might be another shooter.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Let's be careful.

(CROSSTALK)

HOUCK: No, I'm not saying that there is.

BALDWIN: But what he said there was something, he just saw people running. He heard the shots initially, he was sitting in the gate. And then they were being escorted back inside and people saw or heard something and started running back out.

HOUCK: OK.

BALDWIN: And that's why we're seeing this group of people.

But why that one particular group of people all hunched behind that truck is still a mystery.

HOUCK: That's still a mystery. You can see that, apparently the people working at the airport are probably getting information and on walkie-talkies. And you can see another video people just standing around there. I guess it's been declared pretty safe from any potential gunfire or anything like that.

BALDWIN: I am getting a text as I'm listening to you from someone from my high school in Atlanta. Apparently, a college counselor was saved by his laptop.

We're going to try to get in touch with this employee who is sitting there.

I'm staring at this picture of the bullet in his laptop. My goodness.

If you are just joining us, there was a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport within the last hour. It happened somewhere around either the upstairs arrival area or baggage claim area. Sounds like an unsecure area. According to law enforcement, they believed it was one individual. he is in custody. He's been wounded and was shot. You know police are going to have many, many questions for him as far as why as far as why.

The Philip Levine, mayor of Miami Beach, Florida, with me now.

Mr. Mayor, welcome.

PHILIP LEVINE, MAYOR, MIAMI BEACH & CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you. BALDWIN: What do you make of this?

LEVINE: A tragedy. This is horrible. This is a disaster. Our thoughts go out to the families of these tragic victims.

BALDWIN: Of course.

LEVINE: And this is a situation where clearly across the country, people are experiencing these types of situations. This is very unique. And I spoke at the airport director, Miami International Airport, and they are beefing up security right now. They expect to have more passengers coming through, because, with this being a fluid situation, the Fort Lauderdale International Airport may be closed.

BALDWIN: It is closed.

LEVINE: It is closed at this point right now.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: We've seen some planes taking off.

Actually, let me -- I have two more items. More running, more running on the tarmac. It's frightening. The question mark, when you tell everyone you think everything's OK, and when, suddenly, you see people panicked.

Boris Sanchez is on scene.

Boris, why are you running? What's going on?

[14:34:49] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, the short answer is we have no idea. What we are watching right now is police screening a parking garage across the street from terminal 2. What you are seeing right now are officers going floor by floor scanning that area. This all happened about 10 minutes ago. We heard people screaming and turned around to terminal 2, just down the street over there. This is terminal 2 on the second floor. On the lower floor is where the shooting took place. There was a huge amount of people outside the door and, a short while ago, there was screaming and shouting and we looked over and there were at least half a dozen officers with long guns started running in that direction. Since then, we started hearing people screaming on the tarmac.

If we get closer, you can see people evacuating on to the runways right now. We started seeing people here in this area to my left just start running and screaming and shouting. Again, we don't know exactly why. A short while later, we heard the same thing from terminal 1. There's panic and confusion. And as I said, there was more screaming where this screening is underway. We don't know the situation right now, but there are 100s of people spread across this airport asking us what is happening. They are clearly confused and frightened. I've seen several people crying, shaking, just trying to get out of this area. It is extremely difficult because there's traffic everywhere trying to get in and out of this airport. Again, this all started at 1:00, the report of shots fired, in the

building behind me, terminal 2, in the baggage claim, that's where the shooting was reported. Multiple casualties. At least eight people taken to -- as we start watching more people running, what you're seeing is people are running away from --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: What is going on?

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: -- terminal 1.

If you look over to my right, you see down here, this officer is evacuating people from the first floor. And, Brooke, as I said before, there's panic and confusion and we're not sure what we are witnessing here, if this is perhaps more of what we saw earlier in the baggage claim area or if this is perhaps just security trying to sweep the area and people becoming panicked, seeing these officers moving in with long weapons. But, again, there's panic and confusion. And this is going to take quite a long time to clean up and figure out -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Let me stay with you, Boris. As we'll talk to my legal law enforcement guys, to my right, who are all saying it seems disorganized.

But I want to stay with you. Show me around, where this happened, because that seems to be a point of confusion.

SANCHEZ: Right. Let's come this way. This is the second terminal at Fort Lauderdale International Airport. It has two levels. The one we're on now is for departures, the lower are for rivals. The baggage claim of this terminal. And again, when we got here a short while ago, there were several dozen people outside that appeared to be speaking to law enforcement. There was confusion. We had to make another loop around the airport and we had no real idea of who - of, again, where you could and couldn't go. In other words, where this investigation was unfolding. It appeared they were starting to evacuate people from other terminals. There were buses lined up. But about 15 minutes ago, we saw that crowd over there disperse completely. There were at least, as I said, a half a dozen heavily armed officers running in that direction to the other terminals. The airport forms a loop so it appears they were returning to the other terminals. A short while ago, we heard shouting. It's unclear if it was inside that parking garage, but there were officers going floor to floor, armed, scanning and screening that area. And we just saw, moments ago, people on the lower floor running. And we saw people again close to the boarding areas start running toward the tarmac, and not really sure where they have gone. The people on the other side of the airport have run that far away. And again, this is where people were huddled moments ago, and officers were getting them out of the way. They are now hiding behind cars.

Brooke, we don't know what's going on, but it is chaos and confusion. BALDWIN: Brooke, who is around you? Is there any way to grab people

on the fly? I don't know if they are passengers or folks waiting for people. Can you try to grab someone to speak with us while we're live on CNN?

[14:39:55] SANCHEZ: Sure. Sure. Just a moment, Brooke.

Excuse me, Ladies. Would you mind telling us where you're going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My family is in terminal 2, I was kind of waiting between terminal one and the rental car place. Everybody started running out of terminal 1 out of the rental car place. Some lady was running, screaming for help, and so I started running, and here I am.

SANCHEZ: Where you here earlier?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been here probably -- probably about 12:30.

SANCHEZ: What did see unfolding?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was returning the rental car, and my family said stay there because they were putting everybody in a safe place in terminal 2 because they heard gun shots, and they ran. My 90-year-old grandma is in there. She ran.

SANCHEZ: Have you heard from them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, they're fine. They're in the Delta staff lounge.

SANCHEZ: Where are you headed?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: back to Michigan.

SANCHEZ: So, you heard, Brooke, there were several other families stranded as Fort Lauderdale due to closed down operations. We're going to try to get to what's going on here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bless her heart. All those people waiting and wondering.

Boris, thank you to you and your crew.

What do you make of this? People running and running. What's going on?

Jonathan Wackrow has just been seated. He's former Secret Service.

What do you make of this? People just running and running. What's going on.

JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Look, law enforcement has shown up to an active scene and they're going through their protocols for an active shooter, one, to stop an active shooter and, two, to provide a secure environment. Everything that we're seeing right now is just confusion. We're

seeing different groups, whether airport operators, the crisis communication is really falling apart here. To see that much confusion on the inside, which is supposed to be the secure side, which is where the planes are, is absolutely amazing to me. People are dispersing in all locations. Again, the airport authority is not controlling that on both sides. Law enforcement is showing up to put the threat down. Other organizations there, are supposedly to work in tandem to get the public away from the threat. Here there was a threat yards away and people are sitting on the sidewalk. That makes no sense.

Harry?

HOUCK: Yeah, Jonathan, you took the words right out of my mouth. The fact we saw all these people are running. If you're in the airport and there's no direction, you're going to take off, go in any direction you can, beyond security. And you heard gunshots and something is going on, if they're not directing you where to go, you're going to run right out to the tarmac. They should have protocols. And this is not on the police. The police are there for one reason only, to get rid of the threat and secure the location. In the event something like this happens, where are the people going to go? There ain't going to be no more flights taking off out of this airport. There were people that probably haven't even been checked. When this is all over, everybody is going to have to come back and go through security to be able to be able to take off out of that airport. It's a lot of confusion. There's a lot of confusion, no direction. You can see some people running this way and running that way. Who is directing them to where they should go, which is the safe location?

BALDWIN: All right, gentlemen, stand by.

I've got Florida Senator Bill Nelson joining me.

Senator Nelson, it's a tragedy. You have at least five lives lost and at least eight injured. It seems like chaos Your thoughts?

SEN. BILL NELSON, (D), FLORIDA: I just got off the phone with the head of TSA. Five deaths that we know of. The shooter is Esteban Santiago. He had a military I.D. We don't know if it is current.

But what it portends is that every time you get a bunch of people bunching up like at baggage claim or like outside of TSA where you're going to security or lines at the ticket counter, it's a soft target, and the best deterrence is the dog, those dog teams. After the German shooting a year ago, we doubled those dog teams. But they take a long time to train. They're expensive. The problem is you can't have enough dog teams for all the airports and all the crowds that we have.

BALDWIN: Senator, hang on. Let me go back two thoughts. This is the first time we have heard the name of a shooter. You got the name from the head of the TSA?

NELSON: Correct. BALDWIN: He told you it's a name of Esteban Santiago with a military

I.D.

NELSON: Esteban -- correct, but we don't know about the accuracy of the I.D.

BALDWIN: I see.

NELSON: In other words, we do not -- they were pretty sure of his name. But as to the currency or the authenticity of the military I.D., we don't know that.

[14:45:17] BALDWIN: I understand.

And, Senator, do you have a better understanding of how this unfolded, where this Esteban Santiago was when he pulled the gun out?

NELSON: Brooke, you guys are doing a great job, showing everything live. You're on top of it.

They have him in custody, so we will have a full report. The stuff that's being reported now is that people are panicked that there might be other shooters at the airport. You would be more up to date on that. I'm here at Washington in the capitol.

BALDWIN: I understand. I understand.

Let me ask you, from the great state of Florida, and looking at this unfold down in Fort Lauderdale -- and we heard from a woman who is waiting for her 90-year-old grandmother who is huddle in a Delta staff lounge, and she's terrified. What do you have to say to these people.

NELSON: They need to stay in place. And they have got the FBI leading, all law enforcement operations, all levels of law enforcement there, so I'm sure they're going to be OK.

Let me just say that we're pretty sensitized in Florida to guns and tragedy, because as you remember the tragedy of the Pulse Nightclub.

BALDWIN: Orlando.

NELSON: And it's interesting because, just today, I'm filing a bill that would have caught that shooter, Mateen, when he had gone to purchase that high-caliber rapid-fire weapon, because he had previously been on the terrorist watch list. I hope we can get some common sense and get that passed.

BALDWIN: I want to let you go, Senator Nelson, but one final quick question as we are looking -- I don't know if you have seen this -- but all these passengers they almost look like ants scattered on the tarmac. And I have a former Secret Service agent and someone who has been a police officer for decades telling me this is a picture of disorganized. Care to comment on that?

NELSON: I talked to the airport director, Gayle (ph). They seemed to have -- this is as of 30 or 35 minutes ago -- they seemed to have everything under control. But all of this eruption that you're talking about now is occurring since. So, if it's that there's another active shooter there, he will be brought to justice.

BALDWIN: OK. Senator Bill Nelson, thank you so much from Washington, taking the time to talk to us.

NELSON: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I have the mayor of Broward County with me right now, Barbara Sharief.

Mrs. Mayor, first, can you tell me what's going on at the airport now?

BARBARA SHARIEF, (D), MAYOR, BROWARD COUNTY: At this point in time, there was a report that someone heard something that sounded like gunshots in the parking garage. For security purposes, they are sweeping the area to make sure that's not the case. So, the activity that you are seeing right now is a result of them sweeping the area to make sure everything is clear. But at this point, we do not have a confirmation as any other shooting going on at the airport.

BALDWIN: Someone heard something sounding like gunshots, so why were the passengers running out like darts when this apparently happened. Is this a concern?

SHARIEF: No, we have a very organized method we are using to sweep the airport and make sure that all terminals and all passengers are safe and that the airport is clean. But you do understand that we have had passengers that were existing in other terminals and in terminal 2 when all of this occurred. Our job right now is to safely move those passengers from one area and get them as safe as possible to other terminals and into other areas. So, part of this training we have and part of the operations include having them move in an orderly fashion and evacuate through an emergency process to make sure that we clear all passengers and keep them safe, so yes, it is very organized ever law enforcement personnel on scene and move passengers as quickly as we can to clear the airport.

[14:50:10] BALDWIN: Are -- and I see one of the dogs that Senator Nelson mentioned.

Are all these passengers then returning, around to the front of the airport, and being re-screened and getting on planes, when and if the airport reopens?

SHARIEF: The airport, at this time, is not reopening. We are screening them and moving them to safe areas as a precaution. And as soon as we can get those persons in our airport that were existing cleared out, we will then do another sweep of the airport. And then possibly reopen the airport, but that will not occur for several hours. We are telling passengers to remain calm and expect delays.

BALDWIN: I did see some planes taking off. Are those the planes waiting at the gates? You sent them off?

SHARIEF: Correct. Yes. We are moving the passengers as quickly as we can, those that have already been screened in other terminals or in terminal 2. If the planes are there, we are getting those passengers moved as quickly as possible to clear this airport out and to actively investigate this crime scene.

BALDWIN: Just to be crystal clear, it's your best understanding from law enforcement there was one shooter and one shooter only, and that individual is in custody?

SHARIEF: That is correct. And the number of confirmed dead is five. And the number of people we have transported to area hospitals are 13. And so, I'm giving that update, a confirmation of five dead, and eight transferred to hospitals as a result of the shooting. We are, in an organized manner, emptying our airport, and securing the area to make sure there is no further threat.

BALDWIN: Barbara Sharief, thank you so much for taking the time.

Browder County mayor there on this ongoing situation at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport.

Gentlemen, you listen to my conversation with Florida Senator Bill Nelson and also Fort Lauderdale Mayor Barbara Sharief. Thoughts?

HOUCK: I'm not going to point fingers at people here, but the fact is that when you have an incident like this and you have people running out on the tarmac, you have to have people trained out there on the tarmac, which are moving planes around and loading luggage, they need to be trained that when an incident like this happens, where to take them and direct them to a safe location. It doesn't look like they did that here.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Let's ask someone standing on the tarmac right now.

I have Charmaine Yost, who is on the tarmac.

Hi, it's Brooke. Can you hear me?

CHARMAINE YOST, PASENGER STUCK ON PLANE ON FT. LAUDERDALE AIRPORT TARMAC (voice-over): I can hear you faintly.

BALDWIN: Are you OK?

YOST: We are safe. We landed in the middle of this surreal situation. I turned on my phone and saw this headline and saw this at the Fort Lauderdale airport, and they didn't say anything to us until we discovered that some people -- but absolutely horrific news that five people have died. And now looking out the window, we can see hundreds of people lined up on the tarmac, flashing lights with an ambulance leaving. And to be honest with you, everybody was very quick returning to CNN. So, we've been following their coverage to find out what's going on. All they have told us from the airline is that the airport is closed and that we will be here indefinitely, so.

BALDWIN: Charmaine, just hang tight. I appreciate you and everyone sitting on that plane just watching the news. And I understand, as someone who flies a lot, my goodness, that's the airport I'm actually flying into.

I want to read this tweet from the Broward County sheriff: "Active search. Unconfirmed reports of additional shots fired on airport property." Let me read that again, "Active search. Unconfirmed reports of additional shots fired on property."

Unconfirmed shots. That explains why people are running, right, Jonathan, on why people are running.

WACKROW: Well, exactly. But there should be procedures in place. To Harry's earlier comment, we are sitting in New York, it's easy to comment on a dynamic situation in Florida, but what we see here is people potentially running into danger. We don't know if there could be secondary attacks coming in from the other side. You have massive amounts of people coming out on to the tarmac. To me, that could be a secondary potential target. That's something now that law enforcement needs to be concerned with.

Looking at best practices, there are lockdown procedures that should be in place for situations like that, ongoing on right now, and it appears that a lot of those things weren't followed.

[14:55:32] BALDWIN: Let me jump back to the airport.

WACKROW: Yeah.

BALDWIN: Jonathan, thank you so much.

Jump back to the airport. Boris Sanchez is our correspondent there, near where the shooting had taken place.

Boris, what have you learned since we last talked?

SANCHEZ: Brooke, it is still a fluid situation. We have not been able to get -- speak to us here on the ground, but they appear to be done with the sweep of the parking garage that we were just showing you across from the runway. But as you look toward the runway, you can see the evacuations are still underway, there are hundreds of people walking across the tarmac and others to hangars on the other side, and still people on the lower level huddled together. Moments ago, there was a family I saw laying on the ground. Still very frightened by what they had seen.

A few moments ago, there were screaming and officers with very large weapons. We didn't know what was going on. Things appear to have calmed down since then. There were reports of another unconfirmed shooting. It's unclear whether that was as a result of people panicking and running when they saw these officers being mobilized. But it was chaos, people running in all different directions. I saw people hiding behind columns, thinking things were happening behind them. Again. This all started about 1:00 there in the baggage claim area at

The Delta claim area, that there was a report of shots fired. There were several casualties. And since then, it's just been a mess.

We now ATF is on the way. We now the Broward County Sheriff's Office is here in force. We have several other helicopters in the air right now, but there's no real organization that I can see in terms of what's happening on the level that we are on.

There were a couple people huddled together just outside of terminal 2. Again, the upper level of where that shooting happened. They were talking to law enforcement and then the officers started running across the way. It appears a loop at the airport and appears they were running to perhaps another terminal. We don't know.

But we know that governor of Florida, Rick Scott, is on the way. And hopefully, we will get a picture of what has happened, but more importantly, what's happening right now with the people that are stranded here at Fort Lauderdale International Airport -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Viewers, these are live pictures. So, Fort Lauderdale police, Broward County Sheriff's Department is there, and FBI, ATF as well, all being dispatched to help. They have cordoned off the perimeter.

Boris, do you see anyone else around you, you know, any other family members just sitting at the airport waiting for loved ones?

SANCHEZ: There's a family behind me. Let me ask if they would be willing to speak with us.

Can you share what's going on with you right now?

SANCHEZ: They're not really interested in speaking with us, Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right.

SANCHEZ: Where I'm standing right now, most of the passengers are on the other side of us. I'll head over there and see if there's someone we can speak to. And we'll get back to you -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Perfect. We'd love to hear from some people.

Boris, thank you so much.

So, this is really where we are right now. We're just about at the top of the hour. Let me reset. If you are just joining us, whether you are on a plane and stuck on the tarmac there at Fort Lauderdale, or you are just watching like the rest of us watching, like we all watched this scene unfold about an or so ago, we know about an hour or so ago, there was a shooting. A shooter just named by our Florida Senator. We talked to Bill Nelson. And according to the head of TSA, Esteban Santiago. Again, waiting on more confirmation on that. But in total, five people dead, 13 injured. They have been taken on stretchers to area hospitals. That's what we just heard from the mayor of Broward County.

This happened, from what we're understanding, in an unsecure area of the airport, either in the baggage claim area or the arrival area, but an area where anyone could have access to that portion of the airport without those metal detectors and that kind of thing that you're used to going through to get on a plane.

The issue is why. Why this happened. They're trying to get to the motive of that. At some point, we'll be able to talk to the suspect.