Nightmare in Florida
ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jan 07, 2017
Two Fort Lauderdale-bound Bahamasair flights were rerouted to Miami yesterday afternoon after a man killed five people and injured at least eight others in a shooting spree in terminal two of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), bringing operations to a halt.
Bahamasair operates in terminal three of the airport.
Air Canada and Delta are located in terminal two.
According to international press, the suspected gunman, who had reportedly arrived on a flight from Canada with a gun checked into his luggage, opened fire in the baggage claim area of terminal two around 1 p.m.
He was arrested shortly after the shooting.
Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca said, "He claimed his bag and took the gun from baggage and went into the bathroom to load it.
“[He] came out shooting people in baggage claim.”
Mobile footage purporting to show the aftermath of the shooting showed several people on the ground covered in blood in the baggage claim area.
Bahamasair Chairman Valentine Grimes said two Bahamasair flights left Fort Lauderdale shortly before the shooting occurred and there were no flights on the tarmac as of yesterday afternoon.
“We do have two flights which were scheduled to fly into Fort Lauderdale; one at 3:30 p.m. out of Nassau, and the other one, at 6:30 p.m. out of Nassau,” said Grimes, who later confirmed that both flights were rerouted to Miami.
He said Bahamasair’s staff and passengers were uninjured based on all reports at the time.
“All reports are that none of our staff were involved in the matter in terms of being injured, and none of our passengers were injured to the best our of knowledge," Grimes said.
Bahamians frequently travel to Florida and other destinations using FLL.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement around 4 p.m. indicating that its consulate in Miami had been in touch with U.S. authorities to determine if any Bahamian citizens were involved or affected by the shooting. It said all Bahamasair employees were accounted for, and all staff of the The Bahamas Consulate and Bahamas Tourist Office were also accounted for.
Operations were at a standstill yesterday evening.
Hundreds of people remained on the tarmac.
Many others were either stuck on grounded flights or in other terminals.
Terence Bethel, who is the president of Professional Certifications Bahamas, said he arrived in Fort Lauderdale on American Airlines around 2 p.m. and was still on the tarmac after 6 p.m.
“We can see police cars with flashing lights surrounding the perimeter of the runway,” said Bethel, who was on vacation.
“There are helicopters flying over the airport.
“People are becoming a little bit restless.
“No one is communicating any strategy regarding us getting off this plane.”