Mary wrote yesterday about the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood international airport that killed five and wounded eight others. Details are now being released about the shooter, Esteban Santiago, and it appears that he had a history of mental health problems and was under psychiatric care.
The Broward County Sheriff’s office has posted the following about the incident:
A lone gunman, Esteban Santiago, 26 (DOB 3/16/90), opened fire in the baggage claim area, killing five people and wounding eight others.
Airport operations were completely halted as deputies and officers from local, state and federal agencies fanned across airport property to ensure there were no additional threats present.
In addition to those killed and wounded, about three dozen others were transported to area hospitals with minor injuries such as chest pain, anxiety, fall injuries, etc.
Santiago will be booked into the BSO Main Jail after agents complete their questioning. Once he’s booked, you can obtain his booking photo through the arrest search on our website www.sheriff.org.
The FBI is the lead in the investigation. Special Agent in charge of the Miami Division George Piro and Sheriff Scott Israel will be holding a press conference at 10 a.m. Saturday at the media staging area in the upper level, between terminals 1 and 2 at the airport. (emphasis in original)
You can read the booking information here.
Following is the Broward Sheriff’s office booking photo of Santiago.
Santiago apparently flew from his home in Alaska to the Fort Lauderdale airport for the express purpose of shooting people.
According to senior officials, the suspect flew from Anchorage, Alaska to Fort Lauderdale via Minneapolis. He boarded the plane in Alaska last night. He only checked one bag — a hard case carrying his gun, Anchorage Airport Police told ABC News. TSA regulations allow guns to be checked into baggage if they are stored in a locked, hard-sided container that cannot be easily accessed.
According to a Broward County commissioner, he allegedly loaded the gun in the bathroom and came out firing. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said that he fired “indiscriminately” at people in the airport.
The gunman “went through a couple dozen rounds” before throwing the gun down away from him and “lying face down and spread eagle,” waiting for officers to approach him, according to Lea.
Santiago’s background is also emerging as ABC News reports.
Santiago, who spent nine years in the military, was a combat engineer with the Alaska Army National Guard and left the military in August, said Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, director of public affairs for the Alaska National Guard. He received a general discharge under honorable conditions at the rank of Private First Class.
He joined the Puerto Rico National Guard in December 2007 and was deployed to Iraq from April 2010 to February 2011.
Along the way, he earned a number of awards, including the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal, according to his service record.
His mental health became a concern when he walked into an FBI field office in Anchorage and claimed that he was under mind control by an intelligence agency and that he was being forced to watch ISIS videos.
ABC News continues:
A senior law enforcement official said that Santiago walked into the Anchorage FBI field office in November 2016, after his discharge from the military and said he was under mind control by a U.S. intelligence agency.
The official said he appeared incoherent and agitated, saying the U.S. government was trying to force him to watch ISIS videos.
However, he said he didn’t want to hurt anyone. Still, the FBI contacted local law enforcement, which, out of caution, had him medically evaluated. The FBI closed the probe after reviewing databases and interviewing family the official said.
Sources told ABC News that Santiago had received mental health treatment after the encounter with the FBI. A person who answered the phone for Signal 88 — a company in Anchorage where Santiago worked in a security capacity — said it has no comment and is “currently under the advisement of federal authorities.”
According to Santiago’s brother, he was a “normal person,” while other relatives share that he “lost his mind” following his tour in Iraq.
In recent years, Santiago had been living in Anchorage, Alaska, his brother, Bryan Santiago, told The Associated Press from Puerto Rico. Bryan Santiago said his brother’s girlfriend had recently called the family to alert them to his treatment, but he didn’t have further details. He said his brother never spoke to him directly about his medical issues.
“We have not talked for the past three weeks,” Bryan Santiago said. “That’s a bit unusual … I’m in shock. He was a serious person … He was a normal person.”
. . . . Since returning from Iraq, he had also served in the Army Reserves and the Alaska National Guard in Fairbanks. He was serving as a combat engineer in the Guard prior to his discharge for “unsatisfactory performance,” said Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, a spokeswoman. She would not elaborate on his discharge.
His uncle and aunt in New Jersey were trying to make sense of what they were hearing about Santiago after his arrest at the Fort Lauderdale airport.
Maria Ruiz told the Record that her nephew had recently become a father and was struggling with the role.
“It was like he lost his mind,” she said of his return from Iraq. “He said he saw things.”
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