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'Like a war zone': Travelers describe aftermath of Ft. Lauderdale shooting

fort lauderdale eyewitness orig_00002910
fort lauderdale eyewitness orig_00002910

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Story highlights

  • One witness spoke to CNN's Brooke Baldwin on the phone while hiding in a closet
  • "I grabbed the kids and took off running," one man said

(CNN)People who witnessed the shooting or its aftermath at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday described the scene as a "war zone" and "mass hysteria."

Dwayne Dickerson spoke to CNN's Brooke Baldwin live from a supply closet in the airport where he and other frightened travelers were huddled together, hiding.
"We were all here in Terminal 2 at Delta when the shooting started and everybody just scattered. It was mass hysteria," he described. "I jumped over the counter once I realized it was shooting."
"Now, we're kind of in and out, trying to see what's going on, and see when they're going to clear us, and let us...and when it's safe. But now we're hearing this active second shooter," he said.
Authorities later said there was no evidence of another gunman and they believe the shooter, who was taken into custody without incident, acted alone.
David Steiger described himself as "one of the lucky ones." He said that he had just left the baggage claim area when he saw people running toward him, screaming that there was a shooter.
"I heard faint muffled sounds in the background. I couldn't tell if it was a shot being fired but I could tell something was going on and the people running towards me were scared," he said.
That was when he ducked down to hide.
"I had a woman hide behind me actually, as I was kind of huddled in a corner hoping that no shots were going to be fired my way," Steiger said.
"I was right in the middle of it. It was definitely scary, shocking," he added.
Another witness said he heard that some of the passengers who had been on his flight were among the victims. Erik Whiteside said that he, his wife and children had just left the baggage claim area when the commotion started.
"All a sudden everybody started running," he said
"I grabbed our kids and took off running down the ramp. We ran to hide behind some luggage carts."
When Whiteside and his family were allowed to return to the baggage hall, the scene, he said, was chaotic.
"It was like a war zone in here, suitcases everywhere, food on the floor, hats in the middle of the ground, nothing to be claimed. It was just a really surreal experience."
Now, he said, he was stranded at the terminal surrounded by at least 600 other people.
"It's definitely a stressful situation," he said.
Another traveler, also stranded at the airport, fought back tears as she described the moment she realized something was wrong.
"I was kind of waiting between Terminal 1 and the rental car place. Everybody started running out of Terminal 1," she described. She said the rest of her family was inside Terminal 2.
"So I just ran and here I am."
In the commotion, she said, she ended up being separated from her family, who had sought shelter elsewhere in the airport.
"My 90-year-old grandma is in there, she ran," she said.