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Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting <>

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Too Close to Home?


Police at Fort Lauderdale Airport
Photo credit Barry Gordon
This is all getting too close to home for me. My home state of Florida seems to be turning into a shooting gallery. Tonight I am watching the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting story.

It is so much closer to home for me since two of my friends, Renee Gordon, who writes regular columns for American Roads and Global Highways, and Barry Gordon, are trapped outside the airport. They were returning from a trip to the Bahamas and have been at the airport since the shooting occurred. I received this last email from her at 6pm. Remember the shooting took place around 1PM. So imagine being in this situation this long for yourself. "We are stuck outside the doors. No one can enter or leave because they have not found #2 (a possible other shooter). Someone entered my terminal shooting and mayhem followed.  People were screaming and weeping. It was awful. I will try to stay in contact."

Renee and I have traveled together often, so it could just as easily happen to me. Or you. No matter if, like me, you travel a lot or you are a stay-at-home person.

I visited Jordan a few months ago. Friends and family said "Aren't you scared?" My answer was and still is "No."

Andrew Jackson's stature in front of The Landing
near Laura St where the shooting occured
Let me qualify that "No." I'm not scared of being in Jordan or at an airport. These shooting are happening at random places. Two days ago I considered going to Jacksonville's Art Walk. I didn't go because it would involve night driving on the interstate. Yesterday, on the morning news, there was a shooting at that Art Walk and two young men had been shot. Apparently this one was a situation where the victims knew the shooter and are not cooperating with police. Sound like a drug or gang situation. Still, one step in the wrong direction and an innocent person, me or anyone else there just the see the art, could be dead. And it doesn't have to do with travel or events. It could be a supermarket or, as already had happened far too often, a school or church. We don't have to be a travel writer to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up dead.

Governor Scott weighed in and said the shooter "will be held accountable." He added, "The citizens of Florida will not tolerate senseless acts of evil.  I just can't imagine how this ever happened in a state like ours." Scott stated he spoke to Donald Trump and Mike Pence rather than President Obama, because of his personal relationship with Trump and Pence, and they pledged to do everything they could to provide whatever resources Florida needs." Scott added, "Right now the biggest thing to do is pray for them … pray for the individuals that ended up in the hospital."

Broward County Sheriff's cars at airport
 Photo Credit Renee S. Gordon
What I am scared of is that these incidents will continue to happen. One reason is that two of the factors that seem to figure in many of these shooting are not being addressed by our governor or a lot of other public officials. The shooter, Esteban Santiago, a 26-year old U. S. Army veteran who served in Iraq, was being treated by a physiatrist in Alaska. He was recently discharged from the Alaska Army National Guard for "unsatisfactory performance." To me that adds up to ongoing mental problems. So my logical question is "Why did he have a gun."

Too often, after these incidents family or friends report a suspected mental condition that was not treated. Often parents of mental ill young people try to get mental help but cannot. I have seen people walking around the streets exhibiting behaviors clearly indicating mental problems, yet they are not brought to any facilities and treated.

If a person is seen exhibiting signs of Ebola or another dangerous disease that could endanger others, they are not given a choice. They are confined and treated. Yet mental illness is ignored and not reported or if it is the person is not treated. Why?

My even bigger "why" is why does anyone object to not allowing these people to buy guns?  Yes, I understand and agree with the 2nd amendment. Let's leave politics out of things. Registering doesn't take anyone's rights away. We register our vehicles and register our marriages and our property transactions. No one objects to that. Farther, why not have extensive mental examinations before anyone can buy a gun. Anywhere. Forget letting any insane person walk into a flea market or gun show and buy one. Education is a basic right and no one objects to having children have a physical before entering school. Why not mental evaluations at varying stages of maturity?

As a travel writer, I want to walk into an airport with some certainly I will walk out again.  As an individual, you are entitled to that same security. Let's hope we get it someday soon.

Update on Fort  Lauderdale

As more information comes out on the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting, my I-can't-believe-it meter goes through the roof. After this guy told authorities he "was hearing voices telling him to join ISIS," they sent him in for evaluation for four days! Four days? He's telling them he is hearing voices from ISIS and they don't seem to think he was seriously mentally ill and needed long term treatment confined in a secure hospital? To top it off, they felt this was not enough to revoke his gun permit.

Yeah. I know. Second amendment guarantees everyone the right to bear arms. Apparently even seriously ill mental deranged persons who claim they were microchiped and hearing ISIS telling them to go kill with that gun are entitled. Now five people are dead. Eight people are wounded. Hundreds are terrified and stranded for hours at the airport. Flights cancelled. Plans and vacations disrupted.

Some photos from Barry Gordon at the Fort Lauderdale Airport


I hear those who say "Guns don't kill. People do." Right but their killing power would be seriously slowed down if all they had was a knife, hammer, ax, or whatever. A bit of sensible control might not stop all killings like this but it would help a lot.

The other thing that would definitely help is to undo Reagan's insane policy that shut down federally funded mental hospitals. I understand he didn't believe in mental illness or psychiatry but remember he was already experiences the beginning of Alzheimer's when he was in office.

Looking just at our country's homeless population, a quarter of a million people approximately one-third are afflicted with some sort of mental illness. It is unknown how many other people like Esteban Santiago are roaming around hearing voices and buying guns.