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Former Lawtonian sees part of aftermath

Former Lawtonian Dennis Beasley was far enough from Friday's shootings at the Fort Lauderdale airport to be safe, but close enough to see part of the aftermath.

Beasley, a Lawton High School and Cameron University graduate, was at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center for the annual Florida United Numismatists Convention.

Beasley started collecting coins as a youngster in Lawton and joined the Comanche County Coin Club. He eventually became a dealer as well. Now living in Leesburg, Fla., he drove to Fort Lauderdale to set up at one of the nation's largest coin shows.

But there was talk about much more than coins in the convention center at the rampage at the airport about 3 miles away. Beasley said there is always a large police presence  perhaps a hundred officers from various agencies  at the show because of the value of the merchandise on display. Within minutes, Beasley said, the number of officers tripled.

Some of those at the show were directly affected by the intense security thrown up around the airport. Some vendors had family members or business associates who were supposed to be flying in and out of the airport, and they were "in a news black hole." One vendor's son had left for the airport to fly to New York, Beasley said, but the airport was shut down and the father spent 6 hours not knowing what had become of his son.

Security was so tight  with officers, including armed SWAT teams, at entrances and exits and at intersections, and streets shut down  that it took Beasley almost 2 hours to make the 2-mile trip to his hotel room Friday night.

"I saw a full armory of men in uniform," he said.

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