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Harrisburg women avoid Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting

Posted on 1/6/2017, 5:00 PM

HARRISBURG – Two Harrisburg women traveling from Florida to St. Louis had just become airborne when a man began shooting in the Fort Lauderdale airport Friday afternoon, one of the women said.

Celia Roark and her grandmother Patty Peterson had just departed the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport when a man reportedly from an incoming Canadian flight allegedly claimed a checked bag containing a firearm, took the firearm into a bathroom to load it and emerged shooting.

Five people are dead and 8 injured as a result, according to multiple news outlets.

The shooting happened in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2 at the airport.

Roark, the daughter of former Daily Register sports editor John Roark of Princeton, Ind. and Amy Peterson of Marion, said they were in Terminal 1 prior to departure.

"It was not in my terminal, but it was in the basement right underneath," she said. " It was really scary knowing we were that close to the shooter."

Because of the timing of their departure and when the shooter allegedly opened fire, Roark and Peterson did not know it had occurred until they were safely away from the airport. In fact, Roark said they would have left about 30 minutes earlier but their flight had been delayed.

She said she and her grandmother both were a little spooked by the incident but thankful they were not in harm's way.

"We kind of reacted in the same way," Roark, a social work major at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, said. "We felt blessed and scared at same time that something like that was that close to us.Truly, our overall emotion was thankfulness."

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