A witness to the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport that killed five people said he was saved by his laptop when it blocked a bullet.
Steve Frappier, 37, told the Miami Herald that he heard “firecracker noises” in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2 on Friday but “didn’t think much of it because in an airport, there’s always loud sounds.”
Then someone yelled, “He’s got a gun, get down!” Frappier and everyone around him then “hit the floor,” he told CNN. He watched the shooter calmly fire at people, including a man who was struck in the head just 10 feet from Frappier.
“He never said anything the entire time,” Frappier said of the gunman, who police later as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago. “He was cool, calm and collected. He never grimaced.”
Frappier stayed down, facing the floor “like a tortoise with the backpack on me” as shots continued to pop around him, he told CNN.
The shooter turned to fire at Frappier and he felt something strike him in the back, but he thought it might have been luggage falling from the suitcase conveyor belt, he said to the Herald.
It was only later when police had arrested Santiago that Frappier went to the bathroom to check himself that he discovered a bullet had entered his backpack and ripped through a corner of his laptop. When he turned over his backpack to the FBI, agents discovered a 9 mm bullet inside the pack, he told CNN.
“It hit just so through the open backpack, exited, ran through the laptop and the casing and landed in an interior pocket of the backpack,” the Atlanta school counselor who was in town for an education conference, he added.
His Apple MacBook sustained a jagged hole where the bullet struck the computer. An agent told him the laptop likely saved his life.
“The way that it ricocheted and entered my bag. That would have been my back,” Frappier said to Anderson Cooper.
He told the Herald that if he wasn’t wearing his backpack, “the bullet would have shot me between the shoulders.” “It still doesn’t feel real,” he added.
After the flurry of shooting that also wounded eight people, airport police officers arrested Santiago as he fled toward a departure gate. A law enforcement official told The New York Times that Santiago had walked into an FBI office in November in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, saying that he was hearing voices urging him to commit violence and that a U.S. intelligence agency was controlling his mind. Officials had urged him to seek help.