‘Business as usual’ at Ford Airport after Fort Lauderdale shooting

Posted at 10:24 PM, Jan 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-07 12:36:53-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport halted all flights coming in and out of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Friday.

Those cancellations affected travelers across the country and caused concern in West Michigan.

While there were no direct flights from Grand Rapids to Fort Lauderdale on Friday afternoon, families gave an extra sigh of relief to see their loved ones return home safely. The Ford International Airport isn't making any changes because of the incident in Fort Lauderdale, but they do want to remind their travelers if they see something suspicious, say something.

Parents like Todd Buckingham and Debra Zoodsma were thankful to pick up their son and his girlfriend Friday afternoon after vacationing in Tampa, Fla.

"When we heard the news we were a little nervous, that's for sure," said Todd Buckingham. "When we saw him walking down the concourse with his girlfriend we just thanked the Lord he's home safe."

"When I realized what was transpiring I just literally prayed and said thank you God that my kid is in Tampa and not Fort Lauderdale," said Debra Zoodsma. "I feel so awful for the families of the victims there, it's horrific. I'm glad my kids are home safe."

At the Ford airpot, it was business as usual.

"We don't have any heightened security measures or anything like that because of what happened in Fort Lauderdale," said Tara Hernandez, marketing and communications director at Ford Airport. "Our police officers, the TSA and our contracted security officers are all aware of the situation. We've had training on this and we're all briefed on situations like this just as the Fort Lauderdale police officers are."

Ford Airport is using this incident to remind people if they see something, say something.

"To the general public and the people who are picking up loved ones at the airport, we always ask that anytime you ever see something suspicious to say something," said Hernandez. "Law enforcement officers are there for a reason. If a person or piece of luggage look suspicious we always want you to grab a TSA officer or a police officer and let them know of the situation. It's always better to investigate something rather than let that slip through the cracks."

Like Fort Lauderdale, people don't have to go through a security checkpoint to get to baggage claim, but airport security does patrol the area.

"Bags are screened before they go on flights," said Hernandez. "You are allowed to travel with weapons and ammunition if it's in your checked luggage because we do get a lot of hunters or CCL holders who want to carry their weapons with them. The baggage claim and meet and greet area is under security surveillance. We do have police officers and security who watch that area, but it's not screened."

There is a direct flight from Grand Rapids to Fort Lauderdale Saturday night through Allegiant Air and as of Friday night that flight was still scheduled. If you are flying to the area you should reach out to the airline you are flying on or check their websites for your flight's status.