Security stepped up at Albany Intl. following Fla. airport shooting

COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Increased security was seen at Albany International Airport on Friday in response to the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

Members of the Albany County Sheriff’s Office were parked outside, and some walked around with K9s to ensure everyone was safe. Officials said procedures are fluid and are based on the latest local, national and international intelligence.

Friday afternoon, an Army veteran identified as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago of Anchorage, Alaska, drew a gun from his checked luggage after he arrived at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and opened fire. Five people were killed and eight were wounded.

Santiago was arrested at the scene.

People flying in from different areas of Florida were thankful they made it back to Albany safely.

Alexandra Smith came back from Dayton Beach. She said her friends and family frantically texted her to see if she was okay upon hearing about the shooting.

“Especially when you get off the plane, and you think that you’re home or wherever you’re supposed to land, you think that you’re going to get your bags, go home and everything’s fine, and then something like that happens,” she said.

Other passengers worried the shooting was another terrorist attack.

Eileen Cummings flew in from Tampa. As a frequent flyer, she said she would not let the shooting prevent her from traveling.

“This is our world; this is our new world,” she said. “This is the way we’re going to be living, so we have to get used to living and accept it.”

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said his department increased patrols to make sure everyone’s safety was under control.

“It’s not a secret that baggage areas in airports are in a non-secure area and there’s public coming and going constantly,” he said. “But the name of the game is just, you know, see something say something.”

Apple said he tried to work with the Transportation Security Administration in 2016 in passing a legislation where travelers cannot easily enter the airport and head straight to baggage claim, but it got little public support.

His department has also done active shooter training – a form of joint security between TSA and airport officials.

“Things change sometimes on a daily basis,” Doug Myers, Albany International Airport Dir. of Public Affairs, said. “Security is very fluid, and we look to the sheriff’s department to enact whatever measure they feel may be necessary.”

Officials also stressed there is no reason for anyone to be concerned and there was no threat in Albany.

According to the Associated Press, Santiago served in Iraq with the National Guard but was demoted and discharged for unsatisfactory performance.

The motive for the attack remains under investigation.

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