Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting Kills Four Cruise Ship Passengers

Photo by Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald via AP

Four cruise passengers were among the five people killed in Friday’s tragic shooting at a crowded baggage claim area within Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport’s Terminal 2 – less than two miles from Port Everglades. At least six others were wounded. 

Several dozen airport passengers were also injured as people fled the scene.

Four Cruise Ship Passengers Killed

Killed was Terry Andres, 62, Virginia Beach, VA, who had flown to Florida to board a cruise ship with his wife Anne, a travel agent, The Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale reports.

Also fatally wounded, according to information provided to WILE-FM in Ohio by a family member,  was Shirley Timmons, 70, of Senecaville, OH; she and her husband Steve Timmons, who was also critically wounded, were celebrating their 51st wedding anniversary later in the month, according to USA Today. The couple reportedly flew to Fort Lauderdale to join their family on a cruise.

Michael Oehme, a business owner from Council Bluffs, IA, was also shot and killed; he was getting ready to board a cruise ship with his wife, Kari, who was also injured in the attack, ABC 9 News reports.

Another fatality was great grandmother Olga Wattering, from the Marietta, GA, area, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution. She too was set to board a cruise ship with her husband this past weekend.

Another person was also killed, and others are still hospitalized with serious injuries. Many others were injured not at the baggage claim, but elsewhere in the terminal or in an adjacent terminal where the shots were heard, while fleeing the scene.

Arraignment Today

The shooter was identified by authorities as Esteban Santiago, 26, of Anchorage, AK. He surrendered to police after the incident. Santiago is set for a federal court arraignment today in Fort Lauderdale on violence and firearms charges.

According to the FBI, Santiago arrived at the airport on a one-way ticket from Alaska. He had checked the firearm in his checked bag. However, upon arrival, he went to an airport restroom, loaded the gun and then fired directly at passengers waiting in the baggage claim area.

Ship Departures Delayed

Given the close proximity to the airport, Port Everglades had closed briefly to incoming vehicles on Friday, but had reopened just after 5 p.m. that day.

On Friday, two ships -- Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam and the Caribbean Princess of Princess Cruises – delayed their departures for several hours to accommodate late arriving passengers, some of whom had been at the airport but were stuck on the tarmac or elsewhere, waiting for authorities to give the go ahead to leave.

Given the cancellation or delays for inbound flights, on Saturday, many cruise lines opted to delay additional ship departures for a few hours on Saturday. CruiseCritic.com message boards showed many passengers had flights cancelled, were rerouted or sizably delayed.

So most ships left Port Everglades later than scheduled Saturday, to accommodate many late arriving guests. They included Carnival Conquest, Coral Princess, Holland America’s Eurodam and Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas.

Help for Cruise Guests

The Associated Press also said Costa Cruises arranged flights to Nassau, the Bahamas, on Saturday, for two of its passengers unable to reach Costa Deliziosa prior to its Friday night departure. Similarly, Carnival Cruise Line arranged for 20 guests delayed at the airport Friday to fly to their Carnival ship in Nassau as well.

At least one cruise line, Holland America Line, offered free counseling on several ships via a hotline operated by Empathia, an emergency management company.

While Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport reopened early Sunday, the airport was dealing with some 20,000 pieces of luggage as well as purses, personal items and cell phones that had been abandoned at the airport.

Terminal 2 at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport is home to Delta. Ed Bastian, that airline’s CEO, put out this statement: “The thoughts and prayers of the entire Delta family are with the people of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County, and those involved in the tragic events today. We’re grateful to the first responders on the scene who immediately went into action to evacuate our customers and employees.”

He also thanked the airline’s Fort Lauderdale employees and those elsewhere “who are working to re-accommodate our customers.” Due to the status of Terminal 2, Delta offered a waiver for customers who needed to change their travel plans without penalty; details are on www.delta.com.