Five Murdered at Florida Airport, Gunman ID’d
Five murdered at Fort Lauderdale International Airport. Eight other people have been injured, some of them are in critical condition. Law enforcement has id’d Esteban Santiago as the gunman when he was taken into custody by the Broward County sheriff.
Five Murdered, Eight Injured Before Gunman Apprehended
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel reported at a news conference that the shooter was apprehended without incident. He also said the suspect was “fluid and active.” The Ford Lauderdale-Hollywood airport tweeted the shooting occurred at a baggage claim inside Terminal 2 shortly after lunch today. Witness Mark Lea said the shooter made his way through baggage claim with what appeared to be a 9 mm firearm and emptied his entire clip. The witness said, “Once he finished shooting, he walked down by Door 2, threw his gun on the ground, and laid down on the ground, spread-eagle, until the first officer came – which was probably a minute later.” Lea reported the gunman “was not shot at all, was not wounded.”
Esteban Santiago is a U.S. citizen and military veteran. It was reported that he may have heard voices telling him to fight for ISIS before he allegedly started his barrage. He arrived this afternoon on a flight from Anchorage, Alaska. The gun used in the shootings was in his checked baggage lawfully. Although the name Esteban Santiago is being used to presently identify the shooter there has been some confusion about his name as it is possible he had taken someone else’s identification. Barbara Sharief, mayor of Broward County said, “We can’t confirm that for sure and so I am not going to confirm that as this time.”
Santiago, 26, is a former U.S. Army Reservist. According to NBC News he was born in New Jersey. CNN reported that authorities are currently not treating the mass tragedy as a terrorist act. NBC also reported that witnesses said the gunman randomly executed people by shooting them in the head, with “no rhyme nor reason for it.”
Santiago’s family and law enforcement sources say he has a history of mental health issues. CNN reported that the gunman had allegedly been hearing voices telling him to join ISIS and that he had checked into a hospital.
CBS News say that Santiago walked into a FBI office in Anchorage, in November, 2016 and told agents he was being forced to fight for ISIS. He was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility after police were called there.
His brother, Bryan reports, “He is a regular person, spiritual, a good person.” He also said he hadn’t heard from his brother in several weeks. His brother served in Iraq and was honorably discharged from the Army Reserves four months ago. CNN reported, despite winning awards for his service in Iraq, where he saw combat, that there is evidence he was not “performing to standard.” The former soldier has a girlfriend and a baby in Anchorage, Alaska where he had been living. Bryan reported that his brother was “fighting with a lot of people” while in Alaska including his girlfriend, and was “receiving psychological counseling.
According to the Broward County Sheriff the gunman is alive and being grilled by federal law enforcement. Police reported it was too soon to say whether the motive had any link to terrorism. NBC has reported that authorities contend the shooting appears to be the result of a “mentally disturbed person and not an act of terrorism.” They also reported that the gunman served in Iraq and returned mentally unstable. The shooter had prior contact with the criminal justice system in Alaska.