The suspect in a deadly shooting at a Florida airport used a gun that he had stored in his checked luggage, raising questions about airport security and whether safety officials need to change the current rules.
Esteban Santiago, 26, retrieved his gun from his bag on the carousel, loaded it in a bathroom of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, then emerged shooting in the baggage-claim area Friday, killing five people and wounding eight, authorities said.
Transportation Security Administration rules prohibit guns in carry-on bags, but they allow passengers to ship guns if they are unloaded, put in a hard-sided, locked container that only the owner has the ability to unlock, and placed in a checked bag. Explosive or flammable ammunition such as gun powder is banned, but bullets are legal if carried in checked baggage.
That means gun owners can’t get to their weapons during a flight but can easily retrieve and load them after claiming their checked bags.
“This guy found a way to exploit a weakness in the system,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst in San Francisco.
A ban on shipping guns in luggage would hurt law-abiding hunters, he said, “but I don’t think the TSA and FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) can ignore what happened.