Boonton man, hidden in freezer, had landed in Florida to find chaos and fear
FT. LAUDERDALE — Kyle David of Boonton's Facebook page post Friday afternoon was about what you'd expect from someone in town for a joyous celebration. He told friends he'd just landed at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and that he was looking forward to attending the weekend wedding of one of his best friends.
He didn't know what chaos he was about to step into.
He plane landed just as, authorities say, Esteban Santiago, a 26-year-old New Jersey-born resident of Alaska who served in the Alaska National Guard opened fire in the Delta terminal, killing five people and wounded six.
David said he landed right after the shots were fired, and was on his way to pick up a rental car when he heard screaming and people running.
"I ran with them and found a freezer in one of the restaurants to hide in," David said. He said he was "crammed into this this tiny freezer" with 8 to 10 people for about 15 minutes, although he said he had lost all sense of time during his ordeal.
During the shooting there were rumors of a second gunman that ultimately proved unfounded. David said he isn't sure where the story may have started, but said people around him thought they heard additional shots.
When David came out of the freezer, the magnitude of what was going on hit him.
"I saw all the law enforcement and the military with their weapons. It was then that I realized this was a much larger situation than I could have ever expected," David said.
Twenty-five-thousand pieces of luggage, cellphones and other belongings were separated from their owners during the shooting rampage, according to the airport's director, but David's was not among them. David was lucky enough to get his luggage before leaving the airport.
"It had my tuxedo for the wedding in it so I was very protective of my luggage it never left my side," David said.
TMZ posted video of the seconds leading up to Friday’s shooting. Santiago is seen walking through the baggage claim area holding his coat, and then pulls a gun from the waistband of his pants and begins firing. People begin running and diving for cover as Santiago begins to run as he shoots.
One of the victims was identified as Terry Andres, a 62-year-old man from Virginia Beach, Virginia, originally from Millville in South Jersey.
Santiago briefly appeared in federal court Monday in Fort Lauderdale, where U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia Valle explained the charges he faces, and told him the death penalty could apply, the Associated Press reported.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com