FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport officials plan on paying tribute on the anniversary of a deadly shooting that took the lives of five people, while they make sure to take precautions to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
It was at 12:53 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2017 when, investigators said, Esteban Santiago pulled out a loaded gun and opened fire inside Terminal 2 of FLL.
A total of five people were killed while six others were injured. Then, the shooting sent the airport into a frenzy. “People started running back out. We ended up going across the runway. We went through the gateways — ended up on the runway for about half an hour,” said witness Michael Dandurand. “It was scary running for our lives because you don’t know where the danger is. Everyone is running behind you, in front of you.”
“Initially, when it happened, I believe it was just so surreal that this could possibly happen at our airport, and that this had happened in Broward County,” said Broward Commissioner Barbara Sharief.
A moment of silence is scheduled to take place on Saturday, the one-year anniversary of when the shooting take place.
“I still remember, especially when I got here a couple hours ago. You remember,” said Dandurand.
However, since the shooting, Sharief said FLL has made several changes.
“We had just over 120 recommendations that were made. We have implemented the majority of those,” Sharief said.
Sharief couldn’t comment on the nature of the changes due to them being security sensitive.
“You can never plan on something like this. This has never happened in the history of the United States: that someone picked up a gun and started shooting in a baggage claim area,” Sharief said.
Outside consultants reviewed everything that happened that day. Reports said that everything happened due to poor communication and planning.
“People say there was chaos and there was confusion,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. “You think there might have been? 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.
However, several weeks ago, airport service workers held a press conference where they said they still have not been trained to handle such a situation.
“Everyday I go to work, I’m still scared,” said employee Medjhie Bissainthe. “Everything keeps coming in my mind saying, ‘When are they gonna do something for us? When they gonna give us the training?'”
The union that represents the workers said mandated emergency training for passenger service workers needs to be done.
“The training has been taking place, and the essential people that need the training first are getting the training first,” Sharief said. “We are still a safe airport, and we are a lot safer from lessons learned.”
Airport officials said there are new communication protocols in place with ear pieces. The emergency operations center has also been upgraded. There have also been 35 four-hour training sessions, and there will also be a live active shooter drill in April.
“It’s a long list of recommendations, and it’s a work in progress,” said Furr.
Santiago will face a judge in June.
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