FLL employees, officials reflect on deadly shooting, airport safety

FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Employees at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport described the horror they experienced, one year to the day a gunman pulled out a loaded gun and opened fire inside Terminal 2.

It was business as usual at FLL on Saturday, one year to the day when it was anything but. Officials said Esteban Santiago pulled out a firearm from his waistband and started randomly shooting at people, killing five.

Consultants reviewed what unfolded that day and said poor planning and communication did not help the situation.

Airport workers who were there that day felt afraid for their lives like everyone else, but also felt in the dark about how to handle the chaos in the aftermath. “I didn’t even know where to go that day because we didn’t have the training for emergency,” said FLL employee Medjhie Bissainthe.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel addressed the matter on Friday. “People say there was chaos and there was confusion. You think there might’ve been?” he said. “Ten thousand people were escaping, not evacuating.”

“I don’t think anybody’s been prepared to evacuate an entire airport,” said Broward County Mayor Beam Furr.

Airport union representatives and others are pushing to make FLL better prepared for an emergency. “We’re working with the Broward County Commission to implement policies that will make the airport safer,” said airport union representative Anna Tinsley.

Among what’s being changed at FLL are the following:

  • new communication protocols
  • upgraded emergency operations center
  • multiple safety drills
  • ongoing security training classes
  • Broward Sheriff’s Office reaffirming emergency procedures

The objective is to try to be more ready to handle what nobody ever wants to see happen.

Santiago is facing 22 charges. He pleaded not guilty last year and is scheduled to face a judge in June.

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