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Suspect in Custody after Shooting at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport; Interview with Broward County Mayor Sharief. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired January 6, 2017 - 13:30   ET


[13:29:48] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, is reporting that a suspect is in custody after the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport. This, according to U.S. federal officials. Law enforcement believes there was just one shooter, Rene is quoting her sources as saying. At least nine people were injured in the shooting. Clearly, the TSA is investigating.

And incident like this, Tom Fuentes, who takes charge of the investigation.

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (voice-over): I think at this point, if it was determined to be terrorism, the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force would take charge. If it's believed to be a deranged person or, you know, someone with a personal motive to want to shoot someone, then it would be the local police. And that could be the airport or the city police taking charge of it. I think at this point, they'll be trying to determine the motive is, really, the main concern that separates terrorism from just an act of violence. Was it done for support of a terrorist group or a political ideology, or, again, is this a lone actor who might have a mental problem?

WOLF: I think we have Rene Marsh on the phone right now as well, our aviation correspondent.

Rene, you're working your sources. What else are you learning?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): well, this is all very preliminary information. At this point we are hearing at least nine wounded and you are looking at the visual there. We know that the terminal two there at Fort Lauderdale International Airport has been evacuated as they try to figure out exactly what is going on here. I was on the phone with the TSA a short time ago. They are aware of this incident, but they're working on gathering information. You can see this is all fresh. The one detail that we do know is that at this point there are people who are wounded in this shooting. We do know that there was a shooting. Shots were fired. The latest number we have right now is that at least nine wounded, but, Wolf, as you know, with any live late- breaking developing stories, those numbers tend to change. This is the snap shot of the situation in Fort Lauderdale that we have at this moment -- Wolf?

BLITZER: You're not hearing what this individual, what his or her motive might have been? MARSH: No. We're not. Right now, we do know there was one shooter. That's the preliminary information that I have. There was one shooter and the shooter is now in custody.

As far as motive, that information we don't have. I presume once they are able to talk to this person, they'll also talk to witnesses, they'll have a better picture as to what sparked all of this, but that right now is unknown -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Were there any threats to U.S. airports, any warnings, any advisories released in recent weeks or months from the -- from U.S. authorities?

MARSH: You know, they operate at point in time, the time that we're in. They will always tell you, as far as law enforcement, TSA, that they're always on alert, but there was nothing outstanding, meaning of particular incident. We do know Delta terminal 2 was evacuated but we're waiting for details on where in this airport this shooting occurred. Did it happen before the checkpoint? It happened beyond the checkpoint? All of this is still outstanding information. We don't know.

So back to your original question, do we have any warnings or alerts or special bulletins for U.S. airports prior to this incident? No. You know, we don't know exactly what was happening here. They will tell you that, at this specific airport, the law enforcement prior to the checkpoint, Wolf. And then you know what, TSA is in charge of the checkpoint. There is security there. There was security on the grounds there.

But you see these pictures. You see all of these people who have been evacuated. This is a great disruption for a very busy airport. I'm sure this disruption will see residual effects for some time as they continue this investigation for a long time and figuring out exactly what went wrong.

They will want to talk about all of the people in the vicinity, Wolf, and this could take some time before we get that whole picture e picture.

WOLF: We just got a statement in, Rene, from the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Jack Seiler, who said this, in a statement to CNN: "Broward County operates that airport, but Fort Lauderdale Police Department and Fire Department are providing mutual aid and response. We have our units on site to provide assistance and support. It would be more appropriate for Broward County to provide a formal comment or statement on the incident at this time."

Broward County is where Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood are, where this airport is located in Broward County. It's one of the biggest counties in the state of Florida, as a lot of our viewers know, the southern part of the state, just north of Miami, Miami-Dade County.

It's interesting, Rene, Fort Lauderdale police and fire, they are providing mutual aid and response. I assume a lot of others are as well. [13:40:26] MARSH: Absolutely. All hands on deck when you have a

situation like this. Broward County, as you know, that's the sheriff's office there that has jurisdiction over this particular airport. But when we have an incident like this, it is all hands on deck because they have to have all their resources. You see the amount of people alone that have to be safely evacuated from the terminal. And it looks like in one case perhaps the aircraft. Also, they will want to rescreen all of these people who have now evacuated from that aircraft before they board. So, the manpower is needed for such an ongoing situation. And you also want to make sure you have all of your bases covered. You want to make sure it truly that one shooter and that terminal is safe and you have identified all threats in that area. That would explain why you need those additional resources, Wolf.

But again, just to reset for people just tuning in, you have a busy airport in Fort Lauderdale. The latest reporting that CNN has is nine -- at least nine people were wounded. We know that the shooter is in custody. And I'm being told, Wolf, that it is only one suspect. Right now, it remains a mystery what caused this shooting.

WOLF: Rene Marsh knows that area well. She used to live down in Miami.

Rene, thanks very much.

Tom Fuentes is still with us, our senior law enforcement analyst.

Tom, we know the baggage claim at all the U.S. airports, outside the security perimeter, but in recent years, they have sort of beefed up security even at baggage claim, at least at some airports. You see law enforcement walking around at baggage claim. Is that right?

FUENTES: No, that's true. You do have police officers and security guards at that area and all over the grounds of an airport. But to get to baggage claim, you don't have to go through the magnetometers because passengers arrive and then family members or limo drivers may pull up and then come in to that area to help them load luggage into the vehicle. The arrival area of most airports is not as secure as going through the ticket areas -- the gate areas where you go through TSA-run magnetometers. You recall, just I think a couple of years ago --


WOLF: I need to interrupt for a second.

We see somebody on a stretcher being wheeled into an ambulance over there, a fire department vehicle. I don't know if that individual was hurt as part of the shooting or something happened. Sometimes people just, out of shock, they need some medical attention.

But go ahead. Sorry for interrupting.

FUENTES: OK. I was saying we had this shooting a couple of years ago, and I think it was Dallas airport, where it was outside of baggage. And it turned out that the person that did the shooting on the driveway just outside of baggage claim, it was a domestic disturbance, and, you know, so it was personally motivated. We just don't know in this case what the motivation was to cause this person to fire all the shots at the people down there.

WOLF: I assume law enforcement, the immediate priority is to not only get information from the suspect, who is now in custody, the shooter, but also eyewitnesses who saw what was going on. They're going to question as many people as possible, right, Tom?

FUENTES: Right. Under the safety rules, passed by the Supreme Court, they don't have to give Miranda rights to this individual at this point. They have the right --

WOLF: Why is that?

FUENTES: They have the right to interrogate him to determine if this is part of an additional attack, if there are other shooters, or if it's a larger plot that will occur at other airports or other locations. During that time, the initial phase right now, where it's critical to learn that this person was alone, they don't have to give Miranda rights. You go ahead and begin the questioning for a certain period of time. And it never has been determined in the court decisions exactly how long that time is. It's not a matter of days, but certainly in the next minutes and hours, they have the right to try to learn what they can from the shooter.

And then, as far as the witnesses who were in the area, they're going to want to know if they heard him say anything. Did he yell out any kind of a slogan or allegiance to an organization or some other statement made at the time of the shooting or was it completely silent during the process of firing the weapon?

[13:39:56] WOLF: We're seeing a lot of people that were on the tarmac now being escorted by law enforcement into the -- back into the terminal, which is an encouraging sign.

Cedric Alexander, he is with us as well, our CNN law enforcement analyst.

These people are being brought inside back into the terminal. That is encouraging. That is encouraging.

Cedric, hold on for a moment

Because the Broward County mayor is joining us as well.

Mayor, what can you tell us about what happened?

BARBARA SHARIEF, (D), MAYOR, BROWARD COUNTY (voice-over): So, basically at this point in time, we have an active crime scene investigation in terminal two. It appears that it was involving a lone shooter. Airport sheriff's office does have him in custody at this time. We are currently experiencing some backup in terms of our passengers, on being able to move through the terminals, as well as traffic around the area. At this time, we are still investigating. We have activated our Airport Emergency Operation Center, and we are working to get as much information to the public as possible.

BLITZER: Mayor Sharief, is it over as far as you know? You say it's an active investigation. Clearly, the investigation is only just beginning right now, but as far as you know, there's one shooter who is now in custody, was he the sole shooter and presumably everything is at least calm right now?

SHARIEF: Yes. At this point in time, that's correct. He was a lone shooter. And we have no evidence at this time that he was acting with anyone else. He is in custody, and we are currently investigating.

WOLF: He, himself, when he was taken into custody, he was not shot himself or anything like that. He is in good shape, is that right?

SHARIEF: I can't -- I can't report on that at this time because I'm not aware of that.

WOLF: Do we know any -- is there any initial indication of why this shooter may have done this?

SHARIEF: At this time, we do not have a motive, but we are actively investigating that with our sheriff's office. And our public information office is set up in the media staging area between terminal one and two, which all media are welcome to attend.

WOLF: Were there any threats going into this incident, as far as you know, to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport?

SHARIEF: Not that we are aware of.

WOLF: So this came out of the blue. It was a surprise. Is the airport totally shut down right now? No flights coming in or out?

SHARIEF: At this time, the airport is shut down. And they are in the process of trying to activate other areas in the airport so that they can start moving passengers along.

WOLF: How long do you think that's going to take? Do you have any idea?

SHARIEF: I would imagine, at this point, that's going to be several hours.

WOLF: So the airport, for all practice purposes, is going to be shut for a while. And there's huge -- I assume there's huge traffic problems, people trying to catch flights coming into the airport. But no one -- no vehicles are allowed to get anywhere near the airport, is that right?

SHARIEF: There are vehicles that have been rerouted, and they are in holding areas right now. But if you need further information or specifics on that, I'm going to have to direct you to our PIO officer who was actually in the terminal right now and working on moving that traffic along. But people that were already in the airport, they are trying to move them as quickly as possible where they can be in an area where they're safe and they can get on to their next destination as quickly as possible. But because this is so new and this is just happening, at this point in time, I would say that we will have some delays.

WOLF: The mayor of Broward County, Barbara Sharief.

We will stay in close touch with you, Mayor. Thank you for that update.

SHARIEF: Oh, you're very welcome.

WOLF: Good luck to all the folks in Broward County in southern -- south Florida.

Our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, is with us right now.

Rene, for our viewers here in the United States and around the world, update us on what we know at this point. A very disturbing incident, a shooting incident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

MARSH: That's right, Wolf. You can see lots of activity there. All of those folks that you see had to be evacuated as a result of this shooting at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport. So, we know, based on very preliminary information, according to one U.S. official, there was one shooter. We know there were at least injuries. There are many reporters out there about deaths. CNN has no hard reporting right now as far as death. What we can tell you is that there are at least nine injuries. We do know this happened in terminal two.

Again, this is very fresh situation. You can see the passengers being shuttled from one place to the next. We know this happened in terminal 2. Delta Airlines operations out of terminal 2. This happened by the baggage claim area. We do know what section of the airport.

Of course, anyone who flies, you know there is not as much of a security presence at the baggage claim area as there would be, let's say, at a TSA checkpoint.

We don't know motive. That is the big question at this hour. Why did this person open fire? Is we don't have any details about who this shooter is.

Lots of outstanding questions, Wolf, but you can see the impact that it has had on this very busy airport. I mean, look at all of those passengers that are essentially not going anywhere.

And for the people of witnessed any part of this, investigators are going to want to speak to them so they can piece all of this together and get a motive. As I said, that remains unknown.

[13:46:04] BLITZER: Rene, very disturbing information coming in right now from the Broward County sheriff, who just tweeted this, "Confirmed, shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport with multiple people dead. One subject in custody." Earlier, Rene, we reported nine people injured. We have not reported,

at least until now, that there have been deaths. According to the sheriff, multiple people -- we don't know how many -- multiple people shot and killed in this incident. The shooter is in custody. This raises the stakes, multiple people dead in this shooting incident at baggage claim, the Delta terminal, terminal 2 at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, where a lot of people are still out on the tarmac having rushed outside after they heard shots were fired. Now we have confirmed through the Broward County Sheriff's Office that multiple people are dead, that is dramatically raising the stakes.

MARSH: It absolutely does, Wolf. It does. We do know from our team here, our justice team, that both the ATF and the FBI are now responding to this particular incident to assist, to lend their resources to the investigation. We do have that tidbit as far as the law enforcement reinforcements that are now coming in to this investigation here in Fort Lauderdale International Airport, Wolf.

Again, both the -- both the FBI and the ATF are now responding to this incident. As you said, this airport is under the jurisdiction of the Broward -- the Broward Sheriff's Office. We got that reliable information from them that there are multiple people dead. But now we're seeing federal law enforcement coming in to assist with the investigation -- Wolf?

WOLF: Rene, I want to go to the former State Senator Jeremy Ring, who is joining us on the phone right now.

Senator, you spent a lot of time at that Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The Broward County sheriff now saying multiple people are dead. We don't know how many. We know a lot of people were injured, reporting at least nine were injured.

What can you tell us? What have you heard?

JEREMY RING, (D), FORMER FLORIDA STATE SENATOR (voice-over): So, Wolf, I know very little, other than I know I was asked to come on because I know the airport quite well. I haven't heard any new information. But we spend so much time at that airport. In fact, we've been at that Delta terminal because it's the airline that flew us to Tallahassee.

I can tell you that the Broward Sheriff's Office has done a tremendous job. You see security there all the time. You never feel -- my gosh, you never ever imagine something like this. You don't feel unsafe going through there, especially when you probably are there almost every week. It's just shocking.

But I don't have any new information to tell at this point.

WOLF: Is there usually -- you know the airport well. You know the baggage claim. The Delta baggage claim at terminal two. Is there usually police law enforcement on the scene at baggage claim, even though it's outside the security, the TSA perimeter?

RING: You notice that the Broward Sheriff's Office does a tremendous job, and you certainly know that they're patrolling it. You notice the patrolmen and women there quite often. So, yes, you do -- you do see patrol people there all the time.

WOLF: Jeremy Ring, a former Florida State Senator, who knows that airport well. Flies out and in to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Thanks, Senator, for joining us.

Cedric Alexander is still with us. He is our CNN law enforcement analyst. He's joining us on the phone.

Cedric, now that the sheriff's office has confirmed multiple people dead. Earlier, we reported at least nine injured. ATF, FBI all on the scene now. This will be a thorough investigation. They have to figure out what happened and learn from this and try to make sure it doesn't happen again.

[13:50:27] CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALSYT (voice-over): Absolutely. Wolf, it's going to be all federal law enforcement agencies and local police there in South Florida, coordinating together in terms of this investigation, which will probably turn into a federal investigation at some point. This being very early still in this very unfortunately incident, where there's now been loss of life, and still, it being as early as it is, who knows if that number will go higher. So, I think throughout the afternoon, as we learn more and are able to share more, we'll know more about this.'

But it's going to be interesting as to who is this perpetrator, where he or she came from, who they are associated with, their affiliations. Was this a lone attack? Were they given assistance from anyone, externally, internally. We don't know. Those are very preliminary questions that will be determined by the investigatory sources now that are being dispatched to that airport.

BLITZER: We're seeing a lot of crowds of individuals climbing stairs, going back into the terminal. They had rushed to the tarmac. Now they're being allowed back in. That's an encouraging sign, Cedric, isn't it?

ALEXANDER: Yes. But I wouldn't read much into at this point, Wolf, because Fort Lauderdale airport is a pretty big airport and it's configurated in a sophisticated type of way. You have a great sheriff's department there, local law enforcement. I worked in law enforcement in that community in south Florida. And they're going to do a thorough job in terms of making sure they have opportunities to interview witnesses in and around that event when it occurred, but they will have to be and will be very methodical in their investigation.

WOLF: The Fort Lauderdale airport, Cedric, just tweeted that all services have now been suspended. They do that -- here's the tweet, "All services are temporarily suspended at Fort Lauderdale International Airport."

They do that usually in an incident like this where the shooter is in custody out of an abundance of caution, right?

ALEXANDER: Absolutely. Here again, you may have a shooter in custody, but still very early in this investigation. We don't know who else may or may not been involved in some type of way. So, this is still early. That airport is probably going to shut down for some considerable amount of time. It's going to affect flights across the country, where there may be connecting flights. But, quite frankly, that is very minor in terms of what just occurred at that airport. So, yes, to your point, you're absolutely right -- Wolf?

WOLF: We are getting more information, Broward, from the Broward County sheriff. He tweeted moments ago that shots were fired. You can see that. A caller just about 12:55, just before 1:00 p.m. eastern, about shots fired at 100 Terminal Drive at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

We also got a statement from the governor of Florida. Let me read it to our viewers. This is Rick Scott's office: "We have additional reports of a shooting at Fort Lauderdale International Airport. At this time, state law enforcement do not have confirmed information about fatalities or injuries or motive. Governor Scott is currently traveling to Fort Lauderdale to be briefed by law enforcement. We will continue to provide details as receive them." The statement goes on to say, "Also, ATF tweeted they are responding to the shooting to assist state and local partners."

And one of our producers at CNN spoke to the FBI Miami spokesperson who gave him the following statement, and this is from the Miami FBI spokesperson, quote, "We are aware of the situation and are in contact with local authorities. No further information is available at this time."

Presumably, Cedric, they're going to want to make a public statement though explain, not only to Florida, but across the U.S., and around the world, what exactly happened.

ALEXANDER: That would be correct. I think once the governor gets on the ground there and gets briefed by the appropriate law enforcement agencies, I'm quite sure at some point they're going to make a statement publicly in terms of what they know and are capable of sharing in this situation. And there will be some things that they can share with the public and there are going to be some things, of course, that they're not going to be able to share, because it's still early in the investigation. But you can be assured, at some point, once the governor and others have an opportunity to be briefed, they will share that information with the rest of the country.

[13:55:31] WOLF: All activities at the airport are suspended, flights coming in and going out.

Our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, is still with us, aviation.

You're getting more information. What else are you learning?

MARSH: Wolf, as investigators are trying to figure out exactly what sparked this shooting, we are now learning that multiple people are dead. The side-bar to this is completely it is a standstill as far as operations. We know that the airport now has shut down operations. The FAA just blasted out a warning saying there will be security. Many of the passengers who were in this are at the time will be critical to law enforcement because they will have key information about the event, how it unfolded, who was involved, who was targeted. Any sort of color will help investigators figure out a motive here, which, to my understanding, is still unknown.

As we mentioned a few minutes ago, ATF is on the way, the FBI is in contact, the Fort Lauderdale police is there. The airport is under the jurisdiction of Broward County Sheriff's Office. So, you have a pool of law enforcement resources descending on this busy airport, which is, again, at a standstill, to try to figure out a motive here. You have just in the open there, somebody opening fire within the baggage claim area. Again, that happened in terminal 2, Wolf. We know Delta Airlines operates out of that terminal.

But, again, at this point, you would imagine that they have formed this perimeter around the airport, as well to keep the flow of individuals in and out as they try to piece this whole thing together -- Wolf?

WOLF: Cedric Alexander, we're told it's a little more than one hour ago that shots were fired at the baggage claim at the Delta terminal 2. A very busy, especially on a Friday, and the airport is now shut down.

This is going to be a very complicated investigation. It's only just beginning, Cedric. Federal, state, local authorities all will be involved, including the FAA.

ALEXANDER: It is very early in the investigation. One hour into the scene, Wolf, is a very short period of time. They're still going to -- it's a lot of information still to be gathered through whatever video recordings they have there, through witness statements, just a host of things that are going on as we speak. So, it's going to be some time before that airport, I can only imagine, becomes operational again, which, here again, is going to affect other flights across the country where they are connecting flights.

But the most important thing is keeping everyone safe and making real determination as to what happened, who is involved, who is the person in custody. And we will learn more of this as time goes on. But this is just one hour into this investigation, this event, but we will learn more as time continue to move on.

WOLF: I imagine, Cedric, out an abundance of caution, a lot of other airports, whether la Guardia, LAX, Washington Reagan National, will be beefing up security at baggage claim just be sure in case there are copy cats or anything along those lines.

ALEXANDER: Absolutely. We don't know the reason this attack occurred at Fort Lauderdale. I can only imagine that every airport across this country are taking precautionary efforts now by staying very alert, which is not unusual, we do that any way. But certainly taking some real precautionary measures all across this country where everyone has to remain very vigilant. But we also have to continue to move around and travel and be a democratic society, in which we are, and do not allow this to shake us. But where we can continue to move people through the transportation industry, we have to do that. That's the strength of America. We're going to be courageous and we're going to continue to do the things we need to do as we look into, as they look into --