Sarasota County played a pivotal role in 9/11 - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Sarasota County played a pivotal role in 9/11

Posted: Updated:
Image courtesy Google Maps Image courtesy Google Maps
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL -

On the twelfth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, many of us have probably spent a moment reflecting on where we were that day.

And Sarasota county played a pivotal role in that moment in history.

Across Sarasota look up, and you can see flags at half staff, bestowing honor to those lost on this tragic anniversary.

But if you look back, this county was host to key moments on that horrific day.

While history unfolded on television, President Bush arrived at Emma E. Booker elementary in Sarasota. Colonel Steve Burns was there. He was a Sheriff's lieutenant providing security and he couldn't help but notice the busyness of the white house press corps.

Burns said, "As they were disembarking form the vans I could hear them chattering all on their cell phones, you could tell they were kind of excited, there were mentions a plane had hit the World Trade Center."

He said, "Myself and a Secret Service supervisor were just mining that it was obviously a private, small aircraft. Probably somebody had a medical malady crash into the building and that's a shame, but it wasn't a real big thing."

Once the truth came out and everything changed.

"It became pretty chaotic there for a little while."

After President Bush gave a speech and left, Burns was assigned to protect the Secretary of Education. Burns said the Secretary was included in the presidential line of succession and had secret service detail. So they went to a nearby airport and had to remain there for a while since everything was on lock down.

Burns said, "The [president's] itinerary was known at least for several days prior to his visit to Sarasota, so it was a real concern that maybe there was additional targets, even being the school or something."

But before that day, the terrorists had spent time in Sarasota County.

Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi were two of the small group of terrorists who hijacked planes on that fateful day. Atta and Al-Shehhi spent time in Venice in South Sarasota County.

There they learned to fly planes at Huffman Aviation.

Shortly after the attacks, Huffman Aviation owner Rudi Dekkers said, "I heard what happened and the first thing I questioned myself was, if I would've known, I would've killed them with my own bare hands."

He also said, "These two gentlemen's case. I can't call them gentlemen. In these two animals' cases, they apparently were pilots, good pilots because they conducted the training, did the training and passed the license."

And according to recently released FBI documents, a wealthy Middle Eastern family mysteriously fled the Venice area shortly before the attacks.

The FBI claims the family had no ties to the 9-11 terrorists, but the investigative website, browardbulldog.org believes otherwise, and has filed a federal lawsuit pushing for more information.

Burns said in the days following the attack, his office got numerous calls about the terrorists spending time in the area.

Colonel Burns said, "It just makes you realize to never say that can never happen here. Because that certainly we were part of American history."

A part of history that forever changed this country.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:45 AM EDT2014-09-02 12:45:21 GMT
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
  • FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:48 AM EDT2014-09-01 15:48:49 GMT
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
  • Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:48:06 GMT
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Explosion at beverage packaging facility in Lakeland

    Explosion at beverage packaging facility in Lakeland

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 9:51 AM EDT2014-09-02 13:51:15 GMT
    An explosion at a Lakeland beverage packaging facility sent a 60,000-pound boiler onto a CSX railroad track Tuesday morning.
    An explosion at a Lakeland beverage packaging facility sent a 60,000-pound boiler onto a CSX railroad track Tuesday morning.
  • Pasco County couple survive a week adrift at sea

    Pasco County couple survive a week adrift at sea

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 9:16 AM EDT2014-09-02 13:16:33 GMT
    A Pasco county couple is recovering after spending a week adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. They were trapped 80 miles off shore without any food and very little water for seven days.
    A Pasco county couple is recovering after spending a week adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. They were trapped 80 miles off shore without any food and very little water for seven days.
  • Tampa daycare set to reopen after crash

    Tampa daycare set to reopen after crash

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:48 AM EDT2014-09-02 12:48:16 GMT
    A Tampa kindergarten and daycare center is set to reopen four days after a suspected drunk driver crashed through the wall into a classroom.
    A Tampa kindergarten and daycare center is set to reopen four days after a suspected drunk driver crashed through the wall into a classroom.
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Teen accused of killing, dismembering mother's body

    Teen accused of killing, dismembering mother's body

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:48 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:48:37 GMT
    Tyrese LandrumTyrese Landrum
    A Lee County teenager is behind bars, accused of killing his own mother and hiding her body parts around the home.
    A Lee County teenager is behind bars, accused of killing his own mother and hiding her body parts around the home.
  • Clueless swimmers have near-miss with shark off Florida beach

    Clueless swimmers have near-miss with shark off Florida beach

    Monday, September 1 2014 12:45 PM EDT2014-09-01 16:45:15 GMT
    YouTube/User Scott McCainYouTube/User Scott McCain
    Beach-goers in Destin, Florida had a near-miss with a hungry hammerhead shark.
    Beach-goers in Destin, Florida had a near-miss with a hungry hammerhead shark.
  • Teens hurt after falling from carnival ride

    Teens hurt after falling from carnival ride

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:46 AM EDT2014-09-01 10:46:21 GMT
    Teens hurt after falling from carnival ride in Texas.Teens hurt after falling from carnival ride in Texas.
    Two teenagers were rushed to University Medical Center in serious condition, that according to emergency dispatchers, who said they fell more than 12 feet from a ride at Saint Anthony's Bazaar on Sunday night.It happened shortly past 10 p.m.Dispatchers said firefighters also requested a ladder to rescue somebody stranded on the ride. The Crimes Against Children unit is investigating. There was no immediate indication from police of why that unit is involved.
    Two teenagers were rushed to University Medical Center in serious condition, that according to emergency dispatchers, who said they fell more than 12 feet from a ride at Saint Anthony's Bazaar on Sunday night.It happened shortly past 10 p.m.Dispatchers said firefighters also requested a ladder to rescue somebody stranded on the ride. The Crimes Against Children unit is investigating. There was no immediate indication from police of why that unit is involved.
Powered by WorldNow

1336 Augusta West Parkway
Augusta, GA 30909

Telephone: 706.722.6664
Email: talkback6@wjbf.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.