FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A terrified girl trapped in a janitor’s closet and a Delta flight crew hiding in a briefing room were among the 911 callers during the Florida airport shooting spree that killed five people and wounded six others.
Broward Sheriff’s Office released the first batch of calls Tuesday, totaling about 45 minutes. The FBI is still reviewing other calls that will be released later. None of the callers was identified.
“I’m hiding in the closet, of the janitor closet, ma’am, please,” a very scared young woman tells the operator, saying there are seven others hiding with her.
“I work in one of the stores. I left the store and ran in here. There’s a bunch of people I left in the store, children. Oh, my God,” she said staying on the line with the operator for several minutes as she and others tried to open several locked doors before making it out to the tarmac safely.
Authorities say 26- year-old Esteban Santiago, an Iraq war veteran from Alaska, opened fire in a baggage claim area Jan. 6 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, causing pandemonium as passengers and employees ran for cover, many spending hours on the tarmac amid false reports of a second shooter.
Santiago was taken into custody after allegedly firing 15 shots. He has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges. It’s unclear why Santiago, who relatives said suffered from mental illness and heard voices, came to Fort Lauderdale.
One woman said she was hiding in a kitchen in the back of a restaurant; another man at a bar in Terminal 3 tells the operator that everyone is running toward him, fleeing the security lines.
“You need to take cover and have the people around you take cover,” the operator tells him.
Two different callers from Delta crews said more than a dozen of them were locked in a small briefing room and had barricaded the door. They didn’t know whether it was safe to leave. An operator tells one of the crew members that shots had been fired and to stay put because there “is an active search going on.”
“God, you just never think this is going to happen,” the frightened crew member tells the operator.
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