Florida hospital officials say one of the airport shooting victims is expected to be released Saturday, as details emerged about some of those who were killed.
Six gunshot victims were brought to Broward Health Medical Center after Friday’s shooting in which five others died. Officials said Saturday at a news conference with Gov. Rick Scott that one is well enough for release.
Scott says three are still in intensive care. No identifying information was released about any of the wounded.
Authorities say the people were shot at random by 26-year-old Esteban Santiago in a baggage area at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Santiago is in custody and expected to face federal charges in court Monday.
The attack sent panicked witnesses running out of the terminal and spilling onto the tarmac, baggage in hand. Others hid in bathroom stalls or crouched behind cars or anything else they could find as police and paramedics rushed in Friday to help the wounded and establish whether there were any other gunmen.
Bruce Hugon, who had flown in from Indianapolis for a vacation, was at the baggage carousel when he heard four or five pops and saw everyone drop to the ground. He said a woman next to him tried to get up and was shot in the head.
“The guy must have been standing over me at one point. I could smell the gunpowder,” he said. “I thought I was about to feel a piercing pain or nothing at all because I would have been dead.”
Some victims were on vacation
Several of the five people killed were on vacation, headed for cruises that promised sun, sand and fun. Three were collecting their luggage when the gunman opened fired in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2 at the airport — a hub for cruises leaving from Port Everglades.
An official list of victims had not been released by Saturday afternoon. But family and friends of some of the victims confirmed the identities and shared their stories.
Steve Reineccius confirmed to the Associated Press Saturday over Facebook that his grandmother Shirley Timmons, of Ohio, was among those dead. Reineccius says his grandmother and grandfather Steve Timmons, who was seriously injured in the shooting, were both 70 years old.
Local Ohio radio station WILE-FM said the couple had flown to Fort Lauderdale on Friday to join the rest of their family for a cruise.
The radio station says Steve Timmons was shot in the head and underwent emergency surgery at a Fort Lauderdale hospital, where he’s in critical condition.
The couple’s 51st wedding anniversary was in three weeks. They’re from Senecaville, about 145 kilometres east of Columbus, Ohio.
Volunteer firefighter killed
Terry Andres, a volunteer fireman from Virginia Beach, Virginia, was at the airport to go on vacation with his wife, his daughter told local broadcaster WAVY-TV. She said he would have been celebrating his 63rd birthday later this month.
He was shot multiple times, WAVY-TV reported, but his wife of 40 years was not hurt. Andres had served since 2004 with the Oceana Volunteer Fire Department, where he was remembered fondly.
“He was well-liked and respected for both his dedication to being a volunteer as well as his professional approach to his job as a support tech,” the department said in a statement on Saturday. “We mourn his passing as we do all the victims of the senseless attack in Fort Lauderdale.”
Another of those killed was Olga Woltering, a retiree from Marietta, Ga., who was on vacation with her husband Ralph, according to people who recalled her as a prominent figure at the city’s Transfiguration Catholic Church.
“Olga was one of the most joyful, loving, caring and committed people I have ever met,” a church statement said.
“This is a horrible tragedy for everyone here at Transfiguration, especially because Olga was so loved.”
Funeral arrangements are not yet scheduled, said Cat Doyle, a church spokeswoman. Parishioners said she was in her 80s, but no exact age was given.
“From what I understand, their sons are in Florida with her husband right now,” Connolly said. “He’s 90 or more himself, so it’s kind of a fragile situation for him as well.”
The couple lived in a retirement community and were socially active.
“She and her husband were kind of the life of the party,” Connolly said. “They’d go to a dance, and they’d be the last ones on the floor.
“You look at them and say, ‘Man I hope I can do everything they do when I’m that age,”‘ Connolly said.
Another victim, Michael Oehme, was a frequent traveller who loved to cruise with his wife, and the couple was about to head out to sea again, his sister told The Associated Press on Saturday.
“They were supposed to leave today,” Elizabeth Oehme-Miller, 52, said by phone from Council Bluffs, Iowa, also the couple’s hometown. “They were happy to be going on another trip.”
Oehme, 57, was a land surveyor and owned his own business, Boundaryline Surveys, his sister said.
His wife, Kari Oehme, is hospitalized with injuries from a gunshot wound to the shoulder and is expected to recover, with a family member flying to Fort Lauderdale to help her return home, her sister-in-law said. Kari Oehme is a clerical worker at a local office, Oehme-Miller said.
She said she learned that the couple was at the airport during the shooting through a text message from her daughter.
“I still can’t believe it’s true,” Oehme-Miller said. “It hasn’t hit yet. I’m kind of in shock right now.”
The couple was supposed to be cruising to the Caribbean a day after their arrival at the Fort Lauderdale airport.
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