Two Harrisburg, IL residents describe taking off from Fort Laude - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Two Harrisburg, IL residents describe taking off from Fort Lauderdale airport moments before shooting

(Source: Derrion Henderson/KFVS) (Source: Derrion Henderson/KFVS)
HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) -

Imagine your flight being the last one to take off before the shooting happened at the Fort Lauderdale airport on Friday.

Well, that was reality for two people in Harrisburg, Illinois.

Besides a few delays, Celia Roark and her grandmother Patty Peterson both said their flight from Fort Lauderdale to St. Louis started off fine.

"It's always crowd at Fort Lauderdale,"Peterson said.

"It was especially crowded because TSA was taking a long time," Roark said. "It was a busy airport, it was a busy time of year and throughout the entire plane, we had no idea what was going on!"

What they didn't know, just after their flight took off, gunfire rung out in the Fort Lauderdale's airport baggage claim area.

The suspect, 26-year-old Esteban Santiago, allegedly went on a shooting rampage, killing 5 people and injuring dozens more.

The shooting turned the airport into a frenzy with hundreds of people running on the tarmac trying to find a safe place to hide.

Meanwhile, Roark and Peterson had no clue about the mayhem going on until their flight landed in St. Louis.

"I had maybe got five messages saying 'are you safe, is everything okay?'," Roark said. "And I was like whats going on and the man next to my grandmother had said there was a massive shooting at Fort Lauderdale and we were the last flight out of there."

Peterson said she didn't know what to think.

"It took a while for it to soak in that there was this much damage and this many people injured and it happened right behind us," she said.

Roark and Peterson said they try not to think about what if and hopes for the best for everyone involved.

"I'm glad we're home," Peterson said. "But I just feel so bad for the people."

"We're blessed to be home and thankful and praying for the families of the victims and those who were injured," Roark said.

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