"My phone blew up when we landed," said Lorenzo Ellis. "My wife said there was a shooting on the tarmac and are you okay. I told her I was safe, but I was scared."
Every passenger had a story. One man, who was attending a convention in Fort Lauderdale said some of his colleagues were still in the terminal when a second round of shots was reported. "They were taking cover and hiding. Some were in the middle of it," he said.
At Bush airport, HPD officers with explosive detection dogs walked around the baggage claim area. At most airports, there are no metal detectors in baggage claim. "I've had concerns about the setup for a long time," said Mark Mauser. "I've had golf clubs stolen before I could pick them up."
Houston's aviation administration said there was a heightened security presence at both city airports today in the wake of the mass shooting in Florida. The enhanced measures would not be obvious to passengers, according to a statement.
Afternoon flights to Fort Lauderdale were cancelled. The one that arrived at 2pm was the last to make it to Houston. The airport there, said to be the second-busiest in Florida, was closed to departures and arrivals.
Some passengers who got out in time were still too shaken to talk about the incident. Lorenzo Ellis was visibly shaken, but said this as he collected his luggage and walked out of terminal C.
"It's crazy," he said. "This country has got to change."
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At IAH- passengers who left just before the Fort Lauderdale shooting have now arrived#abc13 pic.twitter.com/9tZ2EQz4yI— Deborah Wrigley (@wrigleyABC13) January 6, 2017
Jesus Saenz, Chief Operating Officer of Houston Airport System, issued the following statement: "First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to our colleagues in Florida as they deal with this difficult situation. Here in Houston, flights are operating under normal conditions at both William P. Hobby Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Both of Houston's commercial airports accommodate nonstop air service to and from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, although all flight operations at that facility are currently on hold pending the immediate response and investigation. The Houston Airport System is working closely with the Houston Police Department and other law enforcement partners to ensure that the proper steps are being taken at both Bush and Hobby Airports regarding overall security. At this time, those steps will likely not be noticeable to members of the traveling public and are not expected to impact operations in any way."