Return to Transcripts main page
Report: 5 Dead, 8 Hurt in Ft Lauderdale Airport Shooting; Shooter in Custody and Is Unharmed; Shooter's Weapon Checked in A Bag
Aired January 6, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] GEORGE PIRO, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FBI: Good afternoon. I'm the special agent in charge of the Miami Field office. As the sheriff mentioned the FBI is working very closely with Broward sheriff's office supporting their ongoing efforts here at the airport. Working jointly doing all of the witness interviews, as well as suspect interviews. The investigation is very early. We have a lot of preliminary information going through, but at this point our role is to actively support the Broward sheriff's office until we make a determination about the nature and the motive of this incident.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We heard a report of a shooting at terminal number 1.
SCOTT ISRAEL, SHERIFF, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: At this time, there's been no shooting anywhere else but at the downstairs of terminal 2. There is no confirmation of a shooting at terminal 1. As a matter of fact, at this point as I speak the only gunshots fired at any time during this horrific incident have been downstairs in terminal 2.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What happened at terminal 1? Everyone was evacuated and people said they heard shots upstairs?
ISRAEL: It seems somebody got injured evacuating. No indication of a shooting or anything like that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A person said he heard shots directly behind him inside the parking lot?
ISRAEL: We have no confirmation. We have law enforcement personnel both federal, state and local throughout the airport. No law enforcement at this has confirmed there's been any gunshots other than fired at terminal 2.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We saw another person being arrested, is there another person possibly involved?
ISRAEL: Not in the shooting aspect of it. We are reviewing tape. If someone was arrested it might be for a plethora of things. To my knowledge no one was taken into custody. People could have been secured in handcuffs until we found out who they were and whether or not they were related to this scenario. I don't if they were physically arrested or not but there's been no -- happened around the baggage area.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Any information as to why?
ISRAEL: One suspect only in custody. Not releasing any information on the suspect.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you able to say what kind of weapon was used?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: An automatic? Semiautomatic?
ISRAEL: We're not going to comment. The subject was arrested without incident.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does it appear the shooter was waiting for somebody to arrive and then ambush them.
ISRAEL: We're at the beginning stages. That's what this is all about and at this point the lead on the investigation is with the Broward sheriff's office. If we do uncover at some time this was related to some type of terrorist activity, then the FBI will have complete command of this and we'll move forward the investigation. It is not the time for anybody to call 911 on this incident. We're all here. If you have a real emergency of course but please keep the 911 lines open and if you need information you can follow us on twitter @sheriff. Twitter @browardsheriff.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you identified any vehicle that belong to the shooter?
ISRAEL: Not at this time, not to my knowledge.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: At this point, there does not appear to a terrorism indication at all or too early?
ISRAEL: No, it's too early to say either way on that. That's what's going on right now.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The baggage area where they were coming from, what flight were they there for?
ISRAEL: I do know what flight, but we're not releasing any information until we can positively identify the victims and in a respectful dignified manner notify the next-of-kin.
[15:35:00] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You won't say what airline it was? ISRAEL: No.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did he act alone?
ISRAEL: At this point it looks like he acted alone.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: there was a second active shooter within the last 30 to 45 minutes. Can you speak to that?
ISRAEL: Yes. At this point, there's no second active shooter. There no victims suffering from gunshot wounds. We heard that information as well, it's not confirmed and right now we're dealing with incident right here.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you tell us what was going on in the parking garage that had the agent's guns drawn looking for something?
ISRAEL: I'm sure they were looking for clearing parking lots. We have a variety of SWAT teams out and assets out clearing the entire airport to make sure it's safe, so just doing their job working hard and diligently.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It's Friday afternoon, about how busy was the airport, is this the busiest of the week given the height of tourist season?
MARK GALE, DIRECTOR, FT. LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD AIRPORT: The airport is always very busy, we're one of the fastest growing airports in the country. The terminals are very full, our passengers are sheltered in place, we are working to get them released systemically terminal by terminal to make sure folks are able to exit safely.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How many people are secured across the runway, in the terminal, on the planes, any estimate to that number?
GALE: Right now, we have everybody in the terminals, we have had some airplanes landed with people on board that have not been brought into the terminal building. It's possible those airplanes may actually depart and not come into the terminal building. But typically, between 80,000 and 100,000 passengers. Some decisions may be made not confirmed they may depart for other cities. We're going to go again very methodically before making any decisions and releasing additional passengers into the building on top of those already still in the facility.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How many were in the terminal 2?
GALE: I don't have that information.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you know how many were in the baggage area?
GALE: Typically, in a baggage area there could be hundreds, but I don't know what the number was at that particular moment.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How many planes have landed and not allowed to disperse?
GALE: I don't have the number of those on the ground right now.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Where can passengers get that information? Are you going to put that on your website?
GALE: We are going to put information out through our website and also on twitter @fllflyer.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Give us a timeline when to your knowledge did the shooting begin, where was the shooter at large inside the terminal?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And where is he being interrogated?
ISRAEL: As I said just before it happened just before 1:00. We're not going to give out any specific information about the logistics.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When was he apprehended?
ISRAEL: Shortly thereafter almost immediately after the shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Who did that?
ISRAEL: He was apprehended by a Broward sheriff's deputy and taken into custody without incident.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did the gunman check the weapon through his luggage on an Air Canada flight and fly here, land, take the weapon out, go in the bathroom and load it?
ISRAEL: As I said before that's all part of an ongoing investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We also heard that he put his gun down after the shooting and laid on the floor. Can you talk about?
ISRAEL: I haven't gotten that far. All I know is the gunman is in custody, he's being interviewed by the team of FBI agents and Broward sheriff's deputies and at the time once we establish motive and the investigation continues and we find out what the motive is, then myself and Mr. Piro, the director SAC of the FBI will make a decision on who takes the lead on the investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did any deputies fire their weapons at this parking garage, is that possibly what was heard?
ISRAEL: I don't know what you heard, but there's no confirmation of any gunshots in the parking garage at time of this horrific incident. I believe I know that information but it's not something we're going to release.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you say where he's being interrogated?
ISRAEL: Where he is right now? I'm not sure.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There was no other viable threat, second threat why would the airport -- after the first person was arrested and interrogated. Why shut down the airport?
ISRAEL: I can't say there was a viable threat. We have to clear the airport. It's a common-sense approach. My concern not only with the families who lost, but the director of the FBI that until we believe this airport is a safe place, it won't be opened.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How many deputies at the airport at time of the shooting?
ISRAEL: I'm not sure. Please follow us @browardsheriff on twitter. BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK. So, we just heard from the Broward
county sheriff there, the special agent in charge of the FBI, the airport manager, or director, rather, bottom line this shooter fired at least 13, killed, five, eight injured in the hospital, and what we also learned which was -- listen this is all initial information. He clarified that the shooter actually wasn't hit himself. That he was apprehended without incident. And wasn't wounded at all. He was actually taken in by a Broward county sheriff's deputy. That's what we just got from the news conference. Before I bring in these guys. Evan Perez, let me go to you who has a little bit more on the shooter's identity. What do you know.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right Brooke, at this point it's all initial information. Initially we heard there was an injury to the shooter and now the sheriff clarified it wasn't. So, take that as you will with this information we are and to give to you, but we are told that the initial investigation has shown that the shooter Santiago came in on a flight in a terminal earlier today. Arrived at that terminal, checked firearms. Was able to pick up his luggage, went into a bathroom and came out and started firing, so that's what the initial investigation at this point showing.
Law enforcement obviously has to do a lot of interviews on the flight of the people with him. People still there retrieving their luggage waiting to get the taxis out of the lower level at the Fort Lauderdale airport but again this is the early information from investigators at the scene that he appears to have come on a flight from Alaska in that same terminal prior to the shooting he apparently, he had checked firearms, went into a bathroom and emerged and started shooting.
He didn't say anything according to witnesses. Doesn't appear there was any rhyme or reason to the shooting. He killed five people is what the sheriff has confirmed to us and we now know that this person came with these guns with his luggage which is what you're allowed to do, that he went into a bathroom after retrieving the firearms and came out shooting. That's the latest we have, Brooke.
BALDWIN: That's a stunning development. You may not know the answer. Do we know how long he sat and waited at Fort Lauderdale before he pulled his gun out?
PEREZ: We don't know. He would have arrived from the flight and waiting for his luggage and at that point he was able to retrieve his luggage, went into a bathroom and came out. We don't know how much time that took. That's something that law enforcement is going to put together from looking at the CCTV coverage and witnesses, we don't know exactly how long that took, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Evan, thank you so much. This is a wow. Never heard of this.
HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I brought two handguns down to Charleston, South Carolina what you have to do when you go Kennedy, you go to port authority police, check the weapon, permit, make sure everything is OK and apparently anybody can do that who is licensed so if this man put this weapon in his luggage like that and whether or not he checked it or not there is a possibility they might not have caught it.
BALDWIN: But could have done it totally lawfully in Alaska.
HOUCK: Totally lawfully and then decide to do this. That rule is changing.
BALDWIN: When you landed then, where were you in Charleston?
HOUCK: I was in Charleston, yes.
BALDWIN: When you land in Charleston and you go to retrieve your baggage with the checked guns is there any sort of protocol?
BALDWIN: Grab your bag and roll.
JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE: There will be new legislation.
WACKROW: It's a game-changer at this point just that fact if that is correct, checking firearms is going to change moving forward. It almost has to. This is now a new perceived threat and it's unfortunate.
BALDWIN: Just when you think of everything we go through to get on a plane these days, right? Shoes, liquids, searching to think that you know someone could grab a firearm and could place it in there lawfully if you fill out the proper paperwork and get to baggage claim and pull the gun out because there's no metal detectors.
[15:45:00] PHILIP LEVINE, MAYOR, MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: This is a loophole that needs to be completely changed.
BALDWIN: What about the fact that he was arrested without incident? Speak in English that means?
HOUCK: The only thing that means that he dropped the weapon as soon as he was confronted.
BALDWIN: Wasn't even shot at. Why?
HOUCK: No police officer would have went in there when he was shooting and screamed drop that weapon. Maybe he emptied his clip. We're talking at least 18 rounds were fired, he probably didn't hit everybody once or twice, so either he had an extended clip on some type of handgun or smaller automatic type weapon, mini-AR15 or something like that. It's probably going to be some kind of a handgun.
WACKROW: What should be noted and I think everyone will agree is that the first responding officers did a fantastic job by Broward county, whether he put the gun down going in and stopping that threat, the first responding officers should absolutely commended for their actions. It's just -- everything else we have seen here this situation is dynamic, unknown, so law enforcement should really be commended. Unfortunately, we had five people killed, a lot of injuries but the fact they were able to get the suspect in custody without incident, very rapidly, upon rival should be commended.
BALDWIN: How often do you have like a mass casualty incident in which the shooter is unharmed?
HOUCK: It's rare. They usually kill themselves or they're confronted by law enforcement and shot. This is really -- apparently, this guy didn't want to die. Simple as that as soon as he was confronted by law enforcement he decided to drop his weapon or did he want to show something by doing it this way to speak or maybe he has an agenda, we don't know yet.
BALDWIN: I just got word, what actually went back and forth with air traffic control as this was happening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AIRPORT AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL, FT, LAUDERDALE AIRPORT: We're having a building evacuation at terminal 2.
PILOT: Evacuation at terminal 2?
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL, FT, LAUDERDALE AIRPORT: A building evacuation at terminal 2.
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL, FT, LAUDERDALE AIRPORT: Just be advised there's people coming out of terminal 2.
PILOT: Terminal 2, the terminal next door. It is under security at this point. What happened here right now, I don't know. Right now, the door is closed, we're going to stay seated. If I get any further information I'll let you know. But stay seated where you are right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Just getting a little bit more of some of the color between air traffic control, communication as the airport building was being evacuated what you can hear and from one of the many planes who had just landed trying to make sense of why they were seeing people running outside their plane windows. What Evan just reported to this passenger who left Alaska, and got on a plane with a firearm legally, you can apparently do that if you fill out the paperwork, and then grabbed his bag and went to the bathroom and grabbed his gun and came out and started firing.
HOUCK: And when I was in South Carolina I believe I was able to have 50 rounds. So, if they want to change the law and to the point where you can't carry a weapon, because people go hunting all over the world with weapons, maybe they should limit it to no bullets allowed.
BALDWIN: Juliette Kayyam, what do you make of this stunning development?
JULIETTE KAYYAM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: My take away was that the Broward county sheriff said without any blinking that the FBI was leading the investigation, so that means that they have not -- that there could be a federal violation which would include terrorism which he said they're not there to include or exclude it. Which means from my conversations with people offline with people in government right now they are running a check on this name and nothing is coming up so we're still in the motive wait and see, we certainly can dismiss certain things, this wasn't a random active shooter case, right, this is someone who planned it. And we'll see what we can drill down both from the identification of the name as well as the person they have and whether those two things match.
[15:50:00] BALDWIN: And the Broward county sheriff's deputy arrested him and without incident and would you say not wounded so if he was compliant, dropped his weapon, that maybe at least led you to believe maybe he would cooperate with law enforcement?
KAYYAM: Not necessarily. Someone who has planned at least from our reporting who has planned something this well, the exit strategy would generally be death. I mean let's just be honest here. Suicide or he would have anticipated that he would have been killed by law enforcement. Things happen during these events even to the perpetrator, even to the criminal. This may have been something the rest of the panel was saying related to the gun itself. So, whether he's talking or not, we simply would not know. The FBI is lead to me is the big takeaway right now. This is not a local event. Until they can verify that it is, so to speak, going to be state prosecution, the FBI will maintain control of the investigation. Mostly because if everything pans out this was an international flight.
BALDWIN: With regard to the airport, we heard the airport director say, closed until further notice. People on the tarmac, people inside. We talked to Dwayne, who was holed up in a closet near the Delta counter, should there be more -- more guidance or how long could these people expect to be stuck?
KAYYAM: Right. If they're watching I would expect a long time. Look, this is an active shooter scene, things are still fluid. Their primary goal right now is to protect the people there and to ensure there's no other culprits amongst the innocent, so to speak. So, these are the protocols. This what is the -- sort of like homeland security, law enforcement training is about. And I have to say, even though it seems like a long time, it hasn't been that long. Let's just -- in real time, this has just been a few hours. People just have to anticipate it will take a long time.
Talking about the protocols when I was at DHS working with TSA and FAA the diversion of planes is well understood and happens whenever an airport is under any type of threat and that is going to be for some time. You know, for some time in airport time which tends to be a couple hours, they will divert until everything is safe. That's just the nature of these cases. You know, it's going to be a little while and every airport across the world is now responding in kind and diverting flights away to other airports. BALDWIN: Juliette, thank you. Turning over to my panel, Mr. Mayor,
what do you think about as we think about non-secured area, baggage claim, you know, do you foresee changes?
LEVINE: I think there should be changes and it's an interesting thing. This is a tragedy, but, you know, the fact is he checked this weapon in, went through Canada, came to Ft. Lauderdale. I asked law enforcement, I don't know what is the difference between that and someone just driving up with, god, forbid an automatic weapon and walking into luggage area. You don't need to check your gun.
HOUCK: That's what I thought happened in the beginning.
LEVINE: You don't need to check a gun. That's the big issue we have soft areas at airports, seaports, any area you have people coming together and we have to look for additional security because it's going to be very imperative. As far as what's going on at Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, clearly Miami International Airport is open. I have to believe at some point some of these people will be diverted to Miami International Airport where they're brought down on buss to fly out from there or flights diverted to Miami International Airport. It's only 20, 30 minutes away. It's pretty close.
BALDWIN: What do you two think?
WACKROW: These situations if you take a look back, an active shooter situation, unpredictable, dynamic and, you know, it it's -- this is a wake-up call to look at preparation. Organizations, anywhere that is potentially a soft target, needs to start thinking about the big three, what are they going to do in a tactical situation, what are they going to do in a medical situation, because you have victims and a relocation situation. We've seen all three elements here in this incident in itself.
[15:55:00] This is a wake-up call to look at everything.
BALDWIN: Yes. I actually have -- so many people as we mentioned, a lot of you are stuck on planes in the airport, in closets in the airport, not quite sure of what's happening. Do we have someone on the plane? OK. Actually, let's go to Boris Sanchez. Boris Sanchez our correspondent there at the airport and who has been talking to a couple family members waiting for passengers. A lot of people very, very nervous and understandably so. Boris, what are you seeing?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brooke. Right now, we're watching this Broward county sheriff's office helicopter circling over our heads. A few moments ago, we saw about a dozen Hollywood police, tactical vehicles, going down the loop here at the airport. Of course, a city just south of Ft. Lauderdale. So, the law enforcement presence has grown considerably since we last checked in with you. Things are more calm now than they were even 20 or 30 minutes ago, when there was a lot of confusion and we saw people huddled.
Right now, all the passengers that were on the runway have dissipated. I'm not sure where they've gone, but you mentioned the passengers that were stranded. There are still many of them here, sitting around, because they can't go anywhere. That's a Davie police vehicle driving by us right now, Davie a nearby city as well. So, it is an all-out effort to get this scene completely under control. We heard from the Broward county sheriff's office saying that this is a very fluid situation. Saying that reports of that second shooting earlier in the day are unconfirmed. So far unsubstantiated reports. It seems that people just saw these officers being mobilized and started running and other people started running and that's where things just got completely out of hand.
A couple of important things to point out, Brooke, when we heard from the sheriff, he essentially said that the shooter was taken into custody without incident. I got a chance to ask him if the shooter had, perhaps, a vehicle here at the airport that had been identified. He told me at that point they still hadn't identified one, but that goes to what we were seeing earlier with so many officers in this parking garage just to my right, they were canvassing the entire parking garage. We saw some people running out of there in panic as we saw them go floor by floor.
Again, this is still a very fluid situation. The numbers where they stand right now, at least five people killed, eight people rushed to the hospital. No motive known yet. What we do know hearing from sources from Evan Perez, CNN's Evan Perez, is this man was apparently on an Air Canada flight that landed here at terminal 2 at Ft. Lauderdale airport, Delta and Air Canada terminal. He apparently got his baggage, sources say he went to the rest room, apparently retrieved some kind of weapon, came outside and started shooting. Again, the motive unclear. He is being questioned by federal investigators right now. So, what we're seeing now is a calm scene, but again, Brooke, the cleanup here is going to be an extended process. It is going to be a while before we get a clear picture of exactly how and why this happened.
BALDWIN: Yeah. Boris, thank you so much. It is a stunning development, what Evan is reporting about how this person checked, you know, legally checked, declared he had a weapon, checked it, and grabbed it out of his baggage at Ft. Lauderdale and went to the bathroom, grabbed it out and started shooting. I have three minutes left and in those three minutes in my show I want to talk to Steve Campion, I understand you are sitting on a plane right now. You lad taken this -- we watched the video of the flight attendant trying to explain what was going on. Are you there at Ft. Lauderdale?
STEVE CAMPION, PASSENGER, KTRK REPORTER: I am, Brooke. It's just surreal to hear that information coming in because I'm currently standing on the runway with hundreds of people outside of the terminal. I believe it's terminal 1. I fly in here often. We were on that plane. We were taxiing up to gate b8 and outside the window we saw people running, running away from the terminal which is, obviously, alarming and a bit nerve-racking when you see people running away as your plane is taxiing up. We were kept on the plane for safety reasons for about I want to say 20 minutes or so. They eventually said grab your luggage, grab your belongings and led us through the gate and immediately down to the runway where they have kept us since that has happened and we are currently just out here on the runway standing a little -- in a little bit of drizzle, kind of all wondering exactly what is going on. A lot of confusion out here. Here on the ground at the Ft. Lauderdale airport.
BALDWIN: Steve, we're still looking at people running. We're still -- these are live pictures. We are still watching people on the tarmac running. Do you see this from where you are?
[16:00:00] CAMPION: I don't. I'm near the southwest part of the -- Southwest Airlines part of the airport. I cannot see that from where I am, but to hear that, is certainly not something sitting well for a lot of people out here where I'm standing it's relatively calm. People are on the phone with their loved ones trying to get a little more information, telling them that they're okay, standing out here. As we look at just an unbelievable amount of law enforcement in the distance and the sheriff's helicopter hovering high above. Circling over the airport.
BALDWIN: Are you getting guidance on what to do?
CAMPION: Brooke, we've been told to basically stand in place. We've seen a couple airline employees come around and essentially say we're not flying out of here for the rest of the day. But at that point we're just being told to wait for more direction from law enforcement here on the scene. It's really airline personnel staff, maybe a couple TSA employees that are here kind of corralling everything where I currently am. It is calm where we are. I will tell you that. When we certainly landed from Houston, we circled a couple times, which is a bit weird. I fly into this airport often. When we landed and saw people running away from the terminal --
BALDWIN: You knew something was up.
CAMPION: Exactly. The phones went on at that point, we turned off the airplane mode and everybody's phone was beeping or ringing. We were all getting information there had been a shooting and --
CAMPION: Of course, your heart sinks.
BALDWIN: Of course, it does. Of course, it does. Steve, thank you so much for jumping on the phone, stay safe, stay calm. Thank you. All three of you for being with me. We're going to pick up coverage