Broadcast and cable news networks are covering a mass shooting at a South Florida airport where at least five people have been killed and at least eight others wounded, according to local authorities. What appeared to be a static situation for more than an hour just turned chaotic as people were seen running from a terminal and others sheltering in place.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel began a news conference by confirming that five are dead and said “it’s too early” to call this a terrorist incident. He confirmed that one suspect was taken into custody “without incident” and is being interrogated by the FBI. Israel added that there is no indication of a second shooter.
The airport is closed and will continue to be for “an extended period of time,” the airport tweeted. The Transportation Safety Administration tweeted at 2:33 PM local time that it is an “active shooter” incident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport near Miami:
More than an hour after the man was arrested, there were alarms in a separate terminal from where the shootings took place, and TV news showed live footage of people fleeing the building and authorities with assault rifles canvassing the area.
Israel said at the news conference that it appeared someone was injured while evacuating, but it had “nothing to do with any type of gunshot or anything like that.”
Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief told MSNBC at about 3:10 PM ET that someone in a parking garage reported hearing “something that sounded like gunshots,” which led authorities to evacuate the area and do a sweep. “At this time, there is no confirmation at all that there is another active shooting at the airport.”
Several outlets ID’d the shooter, but Sharief and Israel were not ready to confirm his identity.
Witnesses told MSNBC that the suspect, who was wearing a Star Wars T-shirt, opened fire with a handgun at a baggage claim area and was “shooting people in the head.” One witness said the man went through “about three magazines” before throwing the gun down and lying on the floor spread eagle to await authorities. One witness told MSNBC that people on his right and left were shot dead.
Meanwhile, police are “fully deployed” at airports in Los Angeles, Miami, New York and elsewhere, and the FAA has issued a groundstop for all flights bound for Fort Lauderdale.
Denise Petski contributed to this report.