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Tea resident survives Florida airport shooting

{First responders secure the area outside the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after a shooting took place Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Photo by Mike Stocker / South Florida Sun-Sentinel}

On Friday, January 6th, a man named Esteban Santiago picked up his cased firearm from the Ft. Lauderdale baggage claim, opened it and then opened fire. He would kill five and injure six before finally being subdued by law enforcement, but as many as 40 people were injured in the mayhem that followed.

One of the many people caught up in the panic was Tea resident Sheila Amrhien. Amrhien was in Ft. Lauderdale as she sought to arrive a day early for a business cruise. The owner of Artistic Nails by Sheila in Sioux Falls was eagerly anticipating the experience of learning from international nail educators on the cruise.

“My Delta flight arrived at 12:40 p.m., 10 minutes early,” said Amrhien.

Upon departing the plane, Amrhien headed straight to baggage claim. Her luggage wasn’t yet on the turnstile, so she debated what to do to fill her time.

“I chose to go to the restroom, and thankfully I did. Within a couple of minutes, I heard a loud popping sound. I just figured someone dropped some luggage or something. But then it was followed by continuous pop, pop, pop!”

The popping sound continued, and that’s when gut instinct kicked in for Amrhien, who then jumped on top of the toilet.

“The girl in the next stall is crying hysterically and I’m telling her to be quiet .....the atmosphere was terrifying as we had no idea what was going on. Within a few more minutes a man entered and yelled.”

Quite loud and clearly, he ordered everyone down on the restroom floor with their hands in sight. Amrhien hesitated, but that is when the man issued the order again, this time identifying himself as part of the Sheriff Department.

“Myself, and four or five others, open our doors and come out. The officers then proceed to lead us back out to the baggage claim area.

“As I exit the bathroom, I glance around in front of me and I see a man being handcuffed on the floor. I immediately turn around and go back into the bathroom as I was unsure at this point if there were other dangers. And I figured being in the bathroom would be much safer.”

Amrhien was there for just a few minutes before the officers ushered everyone back to the turnstile. Highly uncomfortable with going back to the scene of the crime, Amrhien noticed an office just off the turnstile and locked herself inside. She told the lone employee manning the office that she was having none of it.

“I immediately ran in and told her I didn’t care if I wasn’t [supposed] to be in there, and I went through into a closet, and a few others - including her - followed, and we shut and locked the door.”

They crouched low, wanting to stay out of sight, and Amrhien made panicked calls to both her father and boyfriend explaining the situation. Their time was cut short when police eventually escorted them outside to the main area. It did nothing to ease Amrhien’s concerns.

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