GREENBRIER, Tenn. (WKRN) – Imagine the terror when shots were fired in the crowded Fort Lauderdale airport, and a Greenbrier family was in the middle of it all.
All 25 of them are now safe at home after taking cover from a gunman who killed five people and injured several more.
The Suggs family was returning from a family trip to the Bahamas, a Christmas gift from the grandparents. There were 10 adults and 15 grandchildren at the airport when they had to run for their lives.
“We heard gunshots. The alarm sounded. Chaos ensued,” Timothy Dalton told News 2.
He and eight other family members, including his wife and four kids, had just separated from the rest of the Suggs family to get some food.
“As we were standing there we heard gunshots,” he said.
Dalton said several shots were fired.
“People scattered, people were running everywhere. Some people ran on airplanes some people ran down the steps to the tarmac.”
Dalton immediately jumped into action shielding his family.
“I just shoved them in between a vending machine and a counter and just got on top of them and tried to just cover them. At that time, I hear somebody saying, ‘Put the gun down, put the gun down,” he explained.
During the mayhem, Dalton says he was separated from his wife–minutes that felt like hours–but they were safely reunited with the rest of their group. They then took refuge in a construction trailer.
“We stayed there for probably two hours as we are there we are looking out the windows, we see military getting dropped on the roof of the airport, we see the swat team, we see FBI getting there.”
He says the family sang hymns and quoted scripture to pass the time.
“Obviously we don’t go to church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but God’s family showed up,” he told News 2.
On Saturday, the family of 25 took a private flight through Missionaries Flight International back home.
“We are very appreciative, we are very blessed, and we are glad to be home,” Dalton expressed.
They family was reunited with their 30 bags of luggage Sunday at Nashville International, while many of their personal items are still behind in Fort Lauderdale.
“I mean, you name it, anything you are going to carry on the airplane with you. Usually it’s the most valuable to you, which is laying there with 20,000 other items that I have no idea where they are but that’s fine, they are just items.”
Items that don’t compare to the lives of his family.
“My wife, my kids, my family… They are all safe and that’s what’s important.”