LA family recalls chaos amid Ft. Lauderdale airport shooting

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A family from Los Angeles were some of many people near the chaos when an Iraq veteran allegedly opened fire at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport on Friday.

When the shots were fired inside the airport, Virgin America passengers ended up grounded because of engine trouble. They watched the news unfold on their TV monitors.

"We would see a car go by behind us...and then we would see it on the TV. It was like, 'This is really strange,'" Randy said.

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Randy, who does not want to give his last name, said the airline couldn't fix the engine problem. Passengers deplaned and were sent back into the terminal.

"All of the sudden it was pandemonium. Somebody screamed that there was a shooter. Everyone was screaming and running, everyone said duck down - we all ducked down to the ground," he said. "People were screaming and I looked up and I thought I saw a shooter, but I just saw people running around."

Randy was traveling with his wife and three young children. He said it was a terrifying experience. They were with dozens of other frightened people who ran beyond the tarmac until they reached some warehouses, where they thought they'd be safe.

The gunman, Esteban Santiago, opened fire in a baggage claim and killed five people. He traveled on a Delta Airlines flight from Alaska to Florida with a single checked bag that contained his semi-automatic handgun.

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Randy said Virgin America should have never taken the passengers off the plane, especially with the situation inside the airport not under control.

"(Inside the plane) was a safe place to be. They released us into the pandemonium of this airport. How do we know they had the airport secured? How do we know there wasn't more than one shooter?" he said.

He added that he is thankful his children weren't trampled during the stampede of people running for cover. They left behind their bags throughout the airport, which is all still being collected and sorted for passengers to pick up on Monday.
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