Even as unsuspecting travelers at Florida's Fort Lauderdale Airport were witnessing the first round of the horrifying attacks, they had to grapple with a situation that created further panic — rumors of shooting by a second gunman.
As Tech Times reported on Jan. 8, a MacBook Pro saved the life of a traveler who had been shot at by the gunman identified as Esteban Santiago. The gunman pulled out the gun from his checked-in baggage and started shooting randomly at passengers who were busy collecting their bags from the luggage counter.
The shooting rampage, which left five people dead and several injured, was a nightmare for many who survived the ordeal with sheer luck. Santiago surrendered as he had had no other option.
Amidst all the chaos and trauma, survivors reminiscence how several of them were being treated as suspects. They were falling short of water and food supplies. These severe conditions were simply adding on to the whole distress.
Rumor Creates Panic
A huge panic had set in at the Florida airport as people kept running helter-skelter in search of safety, seeking refuge from Santiago who kept firing incessantly.
Passengers were left alarmed after the first attack and a rumor started floating that there was a second gunman on the loose. This rumor spread through news sites, social media, and word of mouth through the airport creating havoc and panic as travelers worried for their safety.
The airport was shut down and the rumor was sufficient to make both travelers and airport staff flee to the tarmac. In the process, people got separated from their family and friends and ended up getting injured. People even hid in the storage and kitchen and crouched behind luggage trucks to shield themselves from any attack.
How the rumor of the second gunman started is not known. Several passengers have shared that they heard what they thought to be gunshots in Terminal 3. Sheriff Israel of Broward County disclosed that someone apparently saw a bloodied person and assumed a second gunman was to blame.
The Sheriff does not recollect how much time the authorities took to affirm that no second gunman was involved. The authorities discredited the rumor within 30 minutes to 45 minutes of it beginning to spread.
"I made a decision to clear the airport.I worked with our SWAT team and other SWAT teams to clear the entire airport and the parking garage to make sure we didn't have any other active shooter. It was a voluminous undertaking and we did it, as horrific and horrible as this scene was," the Sheriff revealed.
He asserted that the misinformation of an active shooter disturbed the team's plan of evacuating the airport on time by arranging for the buses that would have arrived within 30 minutes.