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5 dead, 6 hurt in shooting at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Airport; shooter had gun in checked luggage

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. —  A man accused of opening fire in a Fort Lauderdale airport killing five people and injuring six had packed a gun in his luggage, law enforcement officials said Friday.

Authorities did not provide a possible motive Friday for the deadly shooting that happened in the baggage claim area in Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday afternoon.

About 30 to 40 people were also treated at the hospital for non-gunshot related injuries such as broken bones and lacerations sustained when chaos broke out at the airport.

Officials initially said eight people were injured but then reduced the number to six.

The accused shooter, Esteban Santiago, 26, was on a flight from Canada and had a gun in a checked bag, a county official said. After claiming the bag, he loaded the gun in a bathroom and started shooting.

Santiago was taken into custody without incident and was interviewed "extensively" by the sheriff and FBI officials, Broward Sheriff's Office Sheriff Scott Israel said. Responding officers did not fire any shots.

At least five people were killed in a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport on Jan.6, 2017, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said on Twitter. (CNN)

At least five people were killed in a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport on Jan.6, 2017, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said on Twitter. (CNN)

When arrested, he was carrying a military ID with the name Esteban Santiago, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) told CNN.

The senator, who did not offer a spelling of the name, clarified it is not known if this is indeed the gunman's identity. Law enforcement also has not confirmed his name.

Reports of shots fired at the airport were made around 12:55 p.m., according to the Broward Sheriff's Office.

Nearly two hours later, the sheriff's office said there had been unconfirmed reports of additional shots fired on airport property, prompting an active search. The TSA had also earlier tweeted: "Active shooter at #FLL. Shelter in place. Airport closed."

The second incident was later determined to likely have been chaos sparked by someone suffering an injury while evacuating.

"There’s no confirmation of any type of gunshot anywhere but at the time of this horrific, horrific incident," Israel later said.

Following the shooting, throngs of people could be seen on the tarmac, apparently evacuated from the inside, live images from CNN showed. Groups were seen running and apparently taking cover around the time the second incident was being investigation.

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was at the airport at the time.

“I’m at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Shots have been fired.  Everyone is running,” Fleischer tweeted at 12:57 p.m. 

Hundreds of people, many of whom appeared to be at the scene, tweeted about the incident.

One tweeted image shows a man apparently bleeding on the sidewalk. Additional images show a person, possibly the same man, being put on a stretcher.

Broward Health Medical Center took in five trauma patients for treatment. Officials said two of the victims underwent surgery. The extend of their injuries were not disclosed.

Broward Health Medical Center took in five trauma patients for treatment. Officials said two of the victims underwent surgery. The extend of their injuries were not disclosed.

Several flights were diverted to other South Florida airports, and there is a ground stop for flights around the country destined for Fort Lauderdale, the Federal Aviation Administration tweeted.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials confirmed there was a shooting, and tweeted officials are on the way to aid "state and local partners."

Speaking at the airport, Fla. Gov. Rick Scott called the shooting "an evil act" and urged "prayers" for victims and their families.

Scott said he has not spoke to President Barack Obama, but has talked multiple times with President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, with whom he has a "personal relationship."

Scott said both men told him whatever resources he needed from the federal government would be provided.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler has offered his support.

"Our community extends its thoughts, prayers, and support to the victims and their families," Seiler's office stated.

President Barack Obama has been "apprised by Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco," according to Ned Price, spokesman for the National Security Council.

Trump has tweeted about the situation, saying "Monitoring the terrible situation in Florida. Just spoke to Governor Scott. Thoughts and prayers for all. Stay safe."

Israel said the shooter likely acted alone.

Authorities say it is still to early to determine why the suspect began shooting in the airport.

PIX11 Digital Producer Alyssa Zauderer contributed to this story.