Five people were killed and six more were injured in the shooting Friday at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. There is a surveillance video that shows the moment the shooter took his weapon out and started firing at people’s heads in the baggage collection area of Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport (“FLL”). The gunman captured on the videotape is Esteban Santiago. He has been charged with performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation and two other counts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The charges could lead to the death penalty if he is convicted. His victims included a grandfather from Virginia Beach, Virginia and a grandmother from Atlanta, Georgia. Everyone’s hearts and prayers at Abrams Landau, Ltd. go out to the victim’s families and friends.
Licensed in Florida, injury attorney Doug Landau has traveled many times through this airport. Lawyer Landau remembers as a boy seeing his Landau grandparents smiling and waving on the Fort Lauderdale runway waiting for his flight to stop at the gate, and walking him to the baggage carousel and then to their car, before heading to their home in Hollywood, Florida. This airport was a lot less crowded than Miami International, where Landau’s Abrams grandparents would pick him up to take him to their Miami Beach home. The video of innocent passengers, airline crew members and airport employees fleeing to the runway during the mayhem that followed these shootings struck Landau particularly in light of these former, happy memories.
Florida law enforcement investigators learned that the Defendant, an Iraq War veteran, had planned the attack and traveled on a one-way ticket from Anchorage with just the handgun and two magazines in his checked luggage. The shooter’s luggage consisted of only a legally checked Walther 9mm handgun and two magazines of ammunition. After landing, the Defendant retrieved the checked handgun case from baggage claim, he went to a bathroom and loaded the weapon, and then he tucked it into his waistband. The video shows that he shot the first people he saw when he left the restroom, aiming for their heads.
According to the TSA Rules on “Transporting Firearms and Ammunition.”
“You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed.”
Many people think that there is nothing that can be done through the civil justice system for those harmed by this senseless, premeditated criminal act, as the cowardly shooter had legally checked the bag, secured the weapon, and was out of the security (or “Sterile”) area of the airport. However, airport injury lawyer Doug Landau believes that airport Transportation Security rules may require the airlines to take responsibility for the harms caused by this event. In the next post, lawyer Landau will examine the laws applicable to these claims of injury in the baggage areas of international airports like Hollywood Fort Lauderdale.