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Florida Airport Shooting. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired January 6, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The issue is why, why this happened?.
You know they're trying to get to the motive of that. At some point, we will be able to talk to the suspect. The shooter, who is in custody, who is alive, and in custody, he was shot in custody. And, again, five dead, 13 injured, all of this unfolding at Fort Lauderdale.
The interesting piece, though, is it wasn't just over after that. We have seen a bit of chaos and confusion, as different chunks of passengers, several hundreds at a time, would go in the airport and then some time later rush out and go in and rush out.
The Broward Sheriff's Department had tweeted a bit ago, active search, unconfirmed reports of additional shots being fired on airport property. But again we just talked to the mayor, who to me it was her best understanding that there was one shooter and one shooter only.
Let's begin this hour with Gary Grumbach, who is with me, a witness who was in nearby terminal three at the time.
Gary, you are live on CNN. Tell me what you saw and heard.
GARY GRUMBACH, WITNESS: Yes, I was in terminal three.
I just off my plane from Philadelphia and I was about to head down to the stand where I am right now. I am no longer at the airport. But there were a lot of commotion going on. There was a ton of different types of law enforcement officers. There were armored vehicles. There were police from every agency I saw there.
It was really just a very scary scene. People were running. There was a few people crying. At the time people were crying, I wasn't aware of what was going on, I thought the girl was just upset, but it turned out to be a much more serious, much more serious situation.
And they started bottlenecking around -- the police were bottlenecking people the terminal to get out of there. But luckily my ride came and so I'm all safe and sound.
BALDWIN: You are one of the lucky few who was able to get out of there.
Gary, just quickly, did you say you did or you did not hear the pop, pop, pop of the gun?
GRUMBACH: I did not hear any pop, pop, popping, but I did see a lot of people running and a lot of people scared.
And this was just as I was leaving the terminal three baggage claim area on the upper level of the American Airlines area. And this happened -- the incident allegedly happened I think in the baggage claim area of terminal two.
So I was a terminal away, but I did see a lot going on from afar.
BALDWIN: OK. Gary, I'm glad you're safe. Thank you so much for hopping on the phone with me. I really appreciate it.
GRUMBACH: Thank you so much. Appreciate it, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Let's go to our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh now.
Rene, bring us up to speed. What more do you know?
OK, I'm being told she's getting ready, so again as she gets ready, and, guys, just get in my ear when she is.
We have been bouncing between around a couple of different live pictures. Let me know in my ear are these pictures on the right, are these live? No. Not on the right.
OK. So just we are all clear, some time ago, we did see a pretty decent sized group of people rushing out from within the airport heading on the tarmac where a lot of people are still sitting and waiting for further direction.
Rene Marsh, I understand I have you now. Tell me what you have learned.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, what we have is the basics now.
You had Senator Nelson on the air there. He had the name of the shooter. CNN and our staff of reporters here, multiple reporters here at CNN have received the same name from various officials.
Again, that name, Esteban Santiago. But we are still trying to figure out details. Did this individual come in on a flight? What flight was this individual on what cities was he traveling between? These are all questions we don't have at this point, but we do know that the investigation is very much active an going on and zeroing in on this man here, Esteban Santiago.
We still don't have a lot of background information on him at this hour either, but as investigators are digging on his background, they are essentially trying to figure out the motive there, Brooke, what may have led him to open fire there at that airport in Fort Lauderdale.
But, again, this is so fresh, so I think we have the information that we're going to have right now, which is that latest number, which is eight people in the hospital. We have as many as five people shot dead. And we know that passengers were going through this process of being rescreened.
We heard multiple reports of potentially other shots fired in other sections of the airport. We don't have that confirmed at this hour, so as I speak to you, the only confirmation we have solidly from law enforcement there on the ground is that the shots fired happened in terminal two, despite any other reports that are out there, Brooke.
BALDWIN: I'm going to bump that number up that you just reported on injured to 13, according the mayor. Let's dip into this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's as far as I know right now. I guess there's still a suspect on the loose because the police...
QUESTION: How is the situation down there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, like I said, I guess we don't know. We don't know what is going on. They were telling everybody to evacuate the building. So I guess there are still suspects in the area.
QUESTION: Did you hear any gunshots?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I did. I heard two.
QUESTION: How many gunshots did you hear?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard two gunshots.
QUESTION: And what happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea. I left the area.
QUESTION: So how were you let out? What is like the response of the police?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police told management to tell everybody to leave the building and we all evacuated.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. And what is your name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Peter Cruz.
QUESTION: Can you spell it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Peter Cruz.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
BALDWIN: We're trying to piece together just as many pieces as we possibly can of people who were there, who are witnesses, including Erik Whiteside.
Erik is on the phone with me now.
I understand, Erik, you're on the tarmac now, but just to back up, so you were on a plane. You landed at Fort Lauderdale and it was your plane's baggage that was rounding the carousel when the shooting happened?
ERIK WHITESIDE, WITNESS: Correct.
That's what I have been told is that people from my plane were some of the victims. My wife and I left have a 2-year-old and 3-year-old. So, we let everybody get off the plane before we left.
And so were walking up the ramp. And we had just passed the checking gate when all a sudden everybody just started running. I grabbed our kids and we took off running down the ramp. Told the flight attendant to let us off the tarmac. We ran onto the tarmac to hide behind some luggage carts.
BALDWIN: Wow. Erik, then how close did you get before you ran the other direction? How close were you to the shooting?
WHITESIDE: We were -- maybe it's between where the baggage claim and like where security is. These terminals are pretty small here, so it's maybe like 50 yards from our gate to the -- where you walk in through security and it was right outside that where the baggage claim was happening.
BALDWIN: When did you suddenly realize something was very, very wrong?
WHITESIDE: The minute I saw people just grab things and run like back towards the back.
And, I mean, when they finally let us back and you could see it just looked like a war zone in here, suitcases everywhere, suit on the floor, hats in the middle of the ground, nothing to be claimed. It was just a really surreal experience.
BALDWIN: Stop, dropping whatever people had and running, and so you ran with the rest of them. You ran with your little ones, what, out to the tarmac?
WHITESIDE: Back out to the tarmac. And we were out there for maybe a good 45 minutes, an hour. And then they let us in.
And just I guess maybe like another 20 minutes ago, we had some armed security personnel here. And then all a sudden they took off running again and then everybody started freaking out and running again. But we're all in the terminal. They're not letting anybody leave.
Everybody seems to be calm now, except for kids and things like that where it's just they don't know what is going. They can't understand.
BALDWIN: Do you know, Erik, what happened to make everyone run back outside of the terminal? Did you hear anything or see anything? Or you just saw people take off?
WHITESIDE: Yes, I just saw people take off.
But apparently with the second one, there must have been another shooting or something over at parking garage, which we can kind of see. And there's all kinds of cops. I'm looking out at the runways right now cops and security personnel and ambulances.
BALDWIN: At the parking garage?
WHITESIDE: Yes, outside the parking garage out there on the -- like I guess maybe by the baggage claim by the terminal next to us now. So, where it was happening beforehand was my terminal. Now it looks like it's at the one next door to us.
BALDWIN: So, just so you know, we heard from the Broward Sheriff Department. They said unconfirmed reports of additional shots fired on airport property. Potentially, that is what happened at the garage.
Tell me though, now, Erik, and then I promise I will let you go be with your family, but how many people are outstanding around with you right now? Or I'm sorry. You said you were back inside.
WHITESIDE: We're back in the terminal. There's easily 600 people in here.
BALDWIN: OK. And they have told you to sit tight?
WHITESIDE: Yes, everybody sit tight.
And, of course, there's no workers or anything around, so there's no food to be had or anything else like that, or if you want drinks, you can go to the bathroom or whatever. But they want everybody to kind of just sit down and be calm. But it's definitely a stressful situation.
BALDWIN: I cannot imagine being in your shoes with a family around especially and all those kids. Erik, thank you so much. We are thinking about you and everyone there. Thank you so much, Erik.
Boris Sanchez is our correspondent who has been there talking to us there from the Fort Lauderdale airport.
Boris, I hear you have a passenger?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, we actually just spoke with her a couple moments ago, Laurie Gunzelman.
Lori, you actually landed here at about 1:15, about 15 minutes after the reports came in of shots being fired in the terminal behind us. How did you find out all this happened?
LAURIE GUNZELMAN, PASSENGER: Well, actually, we departed the plane and we came down to the baggage terminal.
We were sitting and waiting for our bags. And we noticed it up on the screen on the television, so we understood it was in terminal two. We were in terminal one.
SANCHEZ: How did you feel? It's literally a couple hundred feet away.
GUNZELMAN: Well, obviously a little bit shocking, because you're not really prepared to see something like that when you're actually in an event like that.
And I started getting phone calls from all my family members and friends to make sure I was all right. By that point, we got our bags and we couldn't get a taxi, because they had closed everything off on the first level. So, they brought us up to a second level to get taxis.
And we were only here about 10 minutes. And then pandemonium hit again and people were evacuating out of the terminal. It was quite scary.
SANCHEZ: What did you see there? Do you know why they were running?
GUNZELMAN: My understanding is that they had another person they were apprehending at that time and someone had heard shots fired. But that's all we could hear as people were screaming and running out of the terminal.
SANCHEZ: Sure. Important to point out the Broward Sheriff's Office has said those are unconfirmed reports. Those are rumors that we keep hearing people mention here, but those are unconfirmed.
Did you start running as well? What did you think when you saw those people trying to get away?
GUNZELMAN: Well, I was just trying to get out of the way because there was just a mass wave of people coming down. I didn't want to get trampled.
But they did have everybody kind of cleared off over by the main doors there and there were cops there entering and exiting the door.
SANCHEZ: You mentioned to me you're from Columbus, Ohio. And just a few weeks ago, you had to deal with a terrorist act there. Did you ever expect that you would have to deal with another incident where people are running for their lives and in a panic like this?
GUNZELMAN: No, not at all.
This is so unusual, even at Ohio State. Ohio State is a really wonderful campus. And Columbus has been a very safe place for my family to live. And so this is really surprising. And to have it happen twice in one month is a little overwhelming.
SANCHEZ: Laurie, we thank you so much for speaking to us. GUNZELMAN: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Just one more thing I want to point out to you, Brooke. I heard you ask the guest that we had on before how many people were stranded.
If you look down just about as far as the terminal goes, there are people that are holding their bags their families trying to keep their kids calm, trying to figure out exactly what is going on.
That right over there, where the sirens are, where the lights are, that's the entrance to Fort Lauderdale International Airport. This is terminal one and then behind us is terminal two. We are again on the second level. The shooting happened on the lower level of that building over there in the baggage claim area.
And I'm not sure if you can see, because it's really far away, but as the waves of people running and screaming started running out of the terminals, we have seen them gather just across the runway over there.
BALDWIN: We see.
SANCHEZ: Several hundred people, from what we can tell, are just outside that hangar. And we are watching more official vehicles pulling in right now with their lights flashing.
Things are certainly much calmer than they were just about an hour ago, when those half-dozen officers started running across the street just over there, their long weapons drawn. And then we saw many more of them go into that parking structure.
Things again appear to be calm right now, but this is a mess, Brooke. And it's going to take a while to clear up.
BALDWIN: I'm sure it will.
Boris, thank you so much to you and you crew, just to see the sense of how many hundreds of people were huddled in that sort of private jet area way across on the other side of the tarmacs.
Dwayne Dickerson is on the phone with me. Dwayne is there at the airport.
I understand, Dwayne, you're near the ticketing counter. What's going on right now?
DWAYNE DICKERSON, WITNESS: Well, some of us are huddled in a back closet area. It's like a supply closet. We were all here in terminal two at Delta when the shooting started.
And everybody just scattered. It was mass hysteria. And I was jumped over. I was next in line to check my bag. I jumped over the counter once I realized there was shooting. And I grabbed the Delta representative and said, where is the exit? We need to get out of the exit. And she was just frozen. And so I kept trying to get her to help us get to safety. And so finally we saw this door and everybody thought it was an exit. It's this like a supply closet, smaller than any hotel room you have ever been in.
And now we're kind of in and out trying to see what is going on and see when they're going to clear us and let us -- when it's safe. But now we are hearing this active second shooter. And people are just hiding behind things, trying to make sure that they're not in harm's way of direct gunfire if there's still shooting.
BALDWIN: On the note of the second shooter -- and I know in situations like these, there's just a lot of bad information that is being thrown around.
But I can tell you we just did talk to the mayor of Broward County who said she believes it was just that one shooter who they do have in custody. There were apparently unconfirmed reports of more shots fired maybe in the parking garage, but just to fill you on what we're hearing here at CNN.
Dwayne, are you still huddled in that closet?
DICKERSON: Yes, but I'm poking out every so often to see what is going on and see if it's clear, because nobody wants to be trapped in a one-way-in/one-way-out closet.
BALDWIN: No, forgive me. Go ahead.
DICKERSON: I was going to say, to your point, the rumors are one thing, but when you see the police running and yelling and screaming and then over the intercom they say shutter in place and stay calm, so that fuels those rumors that there's a second shooter when it's telling you to take shelter -- I'm sorry. They said shelter in place.
BALDWIN: Shelter in place, yes.
No, no, that would be disconcerting for anyone. And I would probably be in the closet with you, Dwayne. But are you getting any guidance from anyone at the airport on what to do?
DICKERSON: Very little, very little guidance. There's maybe been two public announcements over the intercom. Nobody is saying whether we're in true lockdown. I didn't hear any information about whether or not we could move.
But then they started saying don't move, because I guess people started getting comfortable about 30 minutes after the original shooting. And then they came and said stop moving, sit down, stay calm, stay in place. And then now every so often, the police officers are coming around and asking who saw what and trying to interview people that may have seen something.
BALDWIN: How many people are in this closet with you?
DICKERSON: Now it's just a couple of us, because people are coming in and out, because they want to -- they don't want to be stuck in here, but then when it looks like there's hysteria and people running, then people run back in the closet.
BALDWIN: Dwayne Dickerson, we may call you back. Thank you so much. Just hang tight. Hopefully, you all can get out of there soon enough. I know that that airport is definitely closed indefinitely.
Thank you, sir.
And these are live pictures. You are looking at all these people scattered like ants on the tarmac. It looks to me like that is a big chain of those baggage carts you see the baggage handlers tossing yours bag on a plane just sitting in the middle of the tarmac. Planes still on the ground.
We did see some taking off just a bit ago to try to clear some people out of the airport, but pretty much looks to me like a standstill.
And we're trying to put the pieces together, trying to understand what it looks like, what happened, why and what it sounded like. Let me just toss to this piece of video from the time of the shooting.
All right. So, Jonathan Wacro (ph), Phil Levine Harry Houck, all with much experience here sitting with me on set, as we listen to this. You see people, you see bags strewn everywhere. React to what you're seeing.
PHILIP LEVINE (D), MAYOR OF MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Well, Brooke, what I can say, of course, is -- and I defer to our friends here from law enforcement -- but clearly it begs the question about these unsecured areas, these baggage areas.
I go to Tel Aviv quite a bit. I'm in Israel. And, as you know, even to get to the airport, it's so highly secured. And all areas of the airport are secured. You can't get near it.
And I'm afraid to say that maybe this horrible, tragic incident could be a call that we're going to need additional security at airports all across the country in luggage areas, in areas that before we didn't have security. So it's very, very unfortunate and it's a real tragedy.
HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: We see this happen on the time when we have incidents like that. Where do you set up yours security perimeter?
BALDWIN: You don't see this all the time in America.
HOUCK: No, no, incidents and active shooter incidents.
HOUCK: Where do you set up your security perimeter?
So, now let's say we set up the security perimeter where you first come in with your luggage, OK? And we have another location. That location is going to be soft also, all right? What if we make that a hard location and then you have got to make -- there's got to be a place where everybody is going to get together, all right, and then make it to the airport with their luggage and everything like that.
In Israel, it's very easy to do because it's a virtually small airport and a smaller country. Look at Canada. You look at this airport here. You have got virtually thousands and thousands of people at airport at the same time.
We see all these people running here hearing shots. Even with the best protocols here at Fort Lauderdale Airport, when something like this happens, you have got thousands of people that are going to take off running. That's going to be very, very hard for you to be able to control, no matter what incident.
We're going to learn a lot from this attack. We're going to learn a lot from this attack and we're going to institute new protocols at all the other airports. But where do we set up the security permitter, so this doesn't happen in this one area?
BALDWIN: I'm listening to both of you. I just got passed a piece of paper. There will be a media briefing any minute now from Broward County. So, we will listen in to that.
I have David Steiger on with me. He actually heard the shots. He was at the baggage claim area at Fort Lauderdale.
David, can you hear me?
DAVID STEIGER, WITNESS: Yes, I can.
BALDWIN: David, tell me, first of all, are you still there at the airport?
STEIGER: I'm not.
I think I got there -- I actually arrived about 12:40 on my flight from Philadelphia. And I think actually as I walked into ground transportation, that's exactly when it was happening.
And I had a ride coming to pick me up stuck right in the middle of the traffic of everything. But I was able to leave shortly after I saw the chaos. So I was one of the lucky ones that got out somewhat quickly, but was there right in the middle right in terminal three next to terminal two, where it was happening.
BALDWIN: Tell me what you saw.
STEIGER: I walked from the second level down to the first level, where ground transportation is, and people were just running towards me screaming, there's a shooter, there's a shooter
And I heard faint, muffled sounds in the background. I couldn't personally tell that it was a shot being fired, but I could tell that something was going on and the people running towards me were scared obviously.
Being a little shocked from seeing that, I walked outside. I tried to look to see what I could see coming from that area. I really couldn't see anything except for the cops flying up. And at that point, people are still running. I had a woman hide behind me actually as I was kind of huddled in a corner, hoping that no shots were going to be fired my way.
The woman hid behind me. And shortly after, I walked around a little bit to see what was going on and actually it seemed like security didn't know exactly what was going on. I actually saw a woman in security laughing to another person. It didn't seem like the word had gotten out just yet.
And that's how early I had gotten there or how simultaneously I had gotten there. So, it was right in the middle of it and it was definitely scary, shocking. But I feel bad for the people that were killed, obviously.
BALDWIN: Of course. Of course. We all do. The number we have, the latest number is five, five who have been killed, 13 are now being treated at hospitals nearby.
How long did you sit, David, and wait behind the wall with the woman sort of behind you before you felt it was OK to get out of there?
STEIGER: She walked away from me. She started walking in the direction that everybody else was walking while I kind of viewed on to see if I could see what was happening.
I'm not really sure which way I was supposed to go. But she walked away. I stood there for about five to 10 minutes trying to see what was going on. Shortly after, my ride was able to push through that line of cars, so I was able to leave shortly after that, but it was about 10 minutes' time.
BALDWIN: David, I appreciate you jumping on the phone with me. Thank you so much. I'm glad you're OK. Frightening, frightening scene for hundreds, if not potentially thousands of people there today and ongoing, by the way, at Florida -- at Fort Lauderdale International.
Let me just play some more video, as we're getting bits and pieces here. This is video of apparently someone who had been injured in the moments after those shots rang out.
Perhaps that was someone who was shot in or near outside who is being taken outside. You can see some of the blood there on the concrete as she or he would be wheeled away, one of 13, according to the Broward County mayor, who is being taken to area hospitals.
Juliette Kayyem is with me still as well, former homeland security official.
We've talked about, sadly, so many shootings. Juliette, we haven't talked in a while. You have been watching all the coverage with us. What are your thoughts?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, a couple things.
I want to make clear that the name that has been stated that was stated by Senator Nelson, essentially, that what we need to do, what law enforcement needs to do is make sure that the identification on the person is actually that person.
So if just go on social media, now, there's several people with the same name. So just in terms of how these investigations unfold, people often carry false identification.
So we still do not know motive and we don't know have a verified information that this is in fact the person. We will probably hear that in a few minutes. But I just wanted to say that my law enforcement sources are saying they still need to confirm that the person in custody is the same person of the I.D. that they found.
The second is, as these things unfold in real time, a lot of people ask sort of what is -- what do people do about homeland security? What is TSA doing? What is also -- a lot of what you are seeing now in these pictures, it may look chaotic. It's less chaotic than it is.
And, unfortunately, these things don't unfold perfectly. You are hearing from people at the airport who didn't know what was going on. But essentially the active shooter protocols, whether it is a terrorist or an active shooter or if this was a familial thing, who knows at this stage, is to run, to run and then hide.
And so what we're seeing now is running, with an airport this crowded, looks quite chaotic. The third thing is that what I'm looking for right now is TSA. TSA still has the airport, is diverting flights. I just learned that flights from Boston up here where I am are getting diverted to nearby airports at this stage.
And so TSA will at some stage need to validate whether this airport is secure in totality. That's the cue that we want to take at this stage about whether these other shots or whether there's still an investigation going on. I suspect the press conference about to come up is going to clarify some of...
BALDWIN: Actually, I think it is beginning right now, Juliette. I think it is beginning right now. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS) SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA, SHERIFF: Good afternoon. I'm
here today with Mark Gale, the director of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, and George Piro, the SAC of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Shortly before 1:00 p.m. today, we had an active shooter inside terminal two, the lower level, by baggage. The active shooter shot at least 13 people. Eight people, as I know right now, are in area hospitals being treated.
I don't know the degree of their injuries. Five people have succumbed to their wounds and tragically are dead. We are not releasing any information on any of the victims until we identify them, which is going to take some time, and we are able to respectfully notify the next of kin first.
The investigation continues. We have area SWAT teams and the Broward Sheriff's Office SWAT team clearing the entire airport. There will be no movement in or about the airport until SWAT teams give me real-time information that it's safe.
Right now, we're taking -- this scene is considered fluid and active. We won't be -- we have -- one of the more critical pieces of information is, we have the shooter in custody. He's unharmed. No law enforcement fired any shots. The subject is being interviewed by a team of FBI agents and Broward Sheriff Office's homicide detectives.
There's been incredible cohesiveness and cooperation between the Broward Sheriff's Office, the FBI, FDLE, and all the local law enforcement entities.
We will answer your questions at the end. We will answer your questions at the end. At this point, I'm going to put the director of the airport on to tell you about what's going on at the airport. Then you will be hearing from the SAC, Mr. Piro. Then I will come back and answer questions.
MARK GALE, DIRECTOR, FORT LAUDERDALE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Thank you, Sheriff.
As the sheriff said, my name is Mark Gale. I'm the airport director here at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport.
When the incident occurred, we responded. Many of you know that we have suspended operations at the airport for the time being. We're working together with all the law enforcement to address all the needs and concerns of the passengers that are inside the building and on airplanes right now. They're all sheltered in place.
We're not sure exactly when the airport will reopen for operations. We're going to work together with all the law enforcement that's here, our airlines, and all the other agencies before we actually move to reopen up the airport.
In the meantime, as the sheriff has indicated, we're just going to go step by step, methodically through the building, before we take any steps to reopen operations.
We will keep everybody informed as best we can through social media and our airport Web site as when that may occur. And we will also be setting up a hot line for families or friends that may be looking for folks that they haven't been able to reach and contact with them. We will also publish that in the relatively near future again on our hot site and out through -- Web site and through social media.
That's all have I for now.
GEORGE PIRO, FBI: Good afternoon. My name is George Piro. I'm the special agent in charge of the FBI's Miami field office.
As the sheriff mentioned, the FBI is working very closely with the Broward Sheriff's Office, supporting their ongoing efforts here at the airport. We're working jointly, doing all of the witness interviews, as well as the suspect interview.
The investigation is very early. We have a lot of preliminary information that we are going through.