Mid-Michigan college student hurt in deadly shooting at airport - WNEM TV 5

Mid-Michigan college student hurt in deadly shooting at airport

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy: Tricia Dwyer Courtesy: Tricia Dwyer
FT. LAUDERDALE (WNEM) -

A Mid-Michigan college student is still recovering after she witnessed a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport that left five people dead and eight hospitalized.

Tricia Dwyer, a senior at Central Michigan University and resident of Mt. Pleasant, was sitting in the airport waiting to board a plane home after a cruise trip to the Bahamas with her brother, Kevin, and their mother when the shooting began.

“I was sitting with my mom and brother at our gate just watching Netflix on our phones, and all of a sudden everyone started screaming and running and hiding, and alarms sounded,” Dwyer posted on Facebook.

Dwyer said all she could think about was her brother and mother’s safety.

“I dove on top of Kevin behind a desk and my mom dove on top of me to shield all of us,” she said.

Dwyer said that’s when a security guard shouted at them to get out.

“He pointed at a nearby door and it was such a blur but I remember everyone running out the door so I got out the door, and with all the screaming and running, I fell down a full flight of cement stairs in my flip-flops by the planes,” Dwyer wrote.

As crowds of people ran and screamed around her, Dwyer said she could hear her brother yell her name, then he picked her up and carried her to a luggage transporter where others were hiding.

It was there she realized her legs were badly bruised and scraped.

“A kind stranger gave me some bandaids,” she wrote.

After that, Dwyer said the security guards ushered everyone from the airport to beyond the planes. She and her family waited for three hours before they were moved to the other side of the airport. They then waited another four hours before law enforcement and the FBI were able to clear the entire airport.

“We were able to go, gate-by-gate, to go get our stuff…escorted by sheriffs with huge guns and bullet proof vests,” Dwyer said.

After gathering their belongings, Dwyer and her family found a hotel to stay in for the night. With no flights to Michigan until later in the week, the three decided to rent a vehicle and drive the distance from Miami to Michigan.

“I am so thankful that my family is safe and if you're reading this, please say a prayer for today's victims and their families. Today was so scary but it made me appreciate so much. My brother is my hero! Always look for where the exit signs are located when you're in a public place,” she wrote.

Officials have identified the alleged shooter as Esteban Santiago, 26.

Relatives told police they believed Santiago began showing signs of mental illness following his tour of duty in Iraq nearly six years ago.

Santiago went to the FBI in Anchorage, AK back in November. He claimed her was hearing voices. Santiago’s brother said he was hospitalized for four days, and then let go.

Santiago bought a one-way ticket from Anchorage to Ft. Lauderdale and told investigators the attack was planned.

He faces three federal charges, each carrying the possibility of the death penalty. 

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