The mass shooting on January 6 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport resulted in the deaths of five people as well as six injured in the shooting and several others who suffered injuries in the pandemonium that occurred during the shooting. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel stated that suspected gunman Esteban Santiago-Ruiz, a military veteran, was arrested without incident.
Authorities said Santiago-Ruiz checked a 9mm semi-automatic handgun in his luggage and retrieved the weapon from his baggage after arriving in Fort Lauderdale. Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca said on Twitter that Santiago-Ruiz went into a restroom to load his weapon and came out firing.
Following the shooting, airports across the nation announced intentions to boost their security. Alleged firearm offenses are some of the most common reasons that people are arrested at airports in Florida, as many visitors from other states or even local residents of the state fail to realize they are not authorized to carry certain weapons.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) prohibits firearms in carry-on baggage, but the agency does allow certain types of firearms to be checked and declared.
Some of the types of firearms and ammunition that may be checked include:
- BB guns;
- Certain kinds of ammunition;
- Compressed air guns;
- Firearm parts;
- Parts of guns and firearms;
- Pellet guns;
- Realistic replicas of firearms;
- Secured firearm magazines and ammunition clips;
- Unloaded, properly packed firearms;
- Unloaded, properly packed flare guns; and
- Unloaded, properly packed starter pistols.
An alleged offender who is accused of carrying a concealed weapon or electric weapon or device can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida Statute § 790.01(1). If a person carries a concealed firearm, Florida Statute § 790.01(2) makes such an offense a third-degree felony.
Airport Arrest Defense Attorney in Broward County, FL
Weapons and firearms crimes are far from being the only kinds of crimes that tourists might be arrested for at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Some of the other alleged offenses that people might be charged with at airports in Florida include, but are not limited to:
- Disorderly conduct;
- Criminal trespass;
- Possession of marijuana or another controlled substance;
- Petit theft;
- Resisting an officer with or without violence; or
- Retail theft (shoplifting).
Local authorities and officers with the TSA are authorized to arrest any alleged offender for unlawful violations or other acts that threaten security. When a formal arrest is made, the alleged offender is taken into custody and booked into the local jail.
In some cases, however, an officer may issue a notice to appear instead of taking the alleged offender into custody. While notice to appear looks just like a common traffic ticket, it is important to understand that the notice is still the legal equivalent of an arrest.
As a result, the notice lists a court date at which the alleged offender is expected to appear. Many tourists who receive notices to appear mistakenly believe that a notice appears is simply a matter that can be resolved by paying a fine through the mail.
If an alleged offender fails to appear in court on the date specified in a notice to appear, that person can have a warrant issued for his or her arrest. A simple misdemeanor offense then becomes a much more complicated situation that can carry additional penalties.
If you or your loved one was recently arrested for any kind of alleged criminal offense at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport or another airport in South Florida, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel.
Contact experienced Broward County criminal defense lawyer Evan Hoffman, who represents residents of and visitors to Fort Lauderdale and many other surrounding areas.