Local families took off in Florida just before Fort Lauderdale airport shooting

Posted at 9:56 PM, Jan 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-06 23:24:03-05

It was a near miss for some Milwaukee area families Friday, who took off just before shots rang out at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

A lot of relieved faces were seen as people walked off their planes at Mitchell Airport. They had just arrived from a flight that started in Fort Lauderdale - one of the last flights before the shooting.

"Just got off the ground when the incident happened. We were actually running a little bit late. But we were able to get off," said Larry Riley, a Milwaukee resident.

It would not be for another 20 minutes, when another passenger turned on their internet connection, that they learned what they left behind.

"I was shaken. It's terrible what had happened," said Heidi Hlavache, from Hartland.

"It was such a shock when we saw this," said Nancy Sterkenburg of Mequon.

"You feel bad for the people that were [there]," said Riley.

Riley said it seemed like just a normal day at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

"Very crowded, very busy," said Riley.

He and others were focused on getting home to the Milwaukee area. Hlavache had left her sons at home while she and her husband took a quick vacation. She was worried they would be scared about the shooting.

"I'm feeling for my boys at home, they were probably thinking about what we were going through," said Hlavache.

"Our children and our friends were texting us if we were okay. We were just very lucky," said Sterkenburg.

They all said the first thing they did was call their family to tell them they were safe. Some of the passengers now wonder if stronger security is needed in open, unsecure areas of the airport.

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