On Friday, an Iraq war veteran took a gun out of his checked luggage and opened fire in the baggage area of the Fort Lauderdale airport, which was quite crowded. The shooting claimed the lives of five people. It has also come to light that Esteban Santiago had showed up at the FBI office some months ago and had been behaving erratically. After the shooting, the 26-year-old was immediately taken into custody and questioned at length. Special agent George Piro, who is in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s office in Miami, said that Santiago, who had served in the U.S. military, would face federal charges due to his shooting rampage.
He also added that the suspect’s recent traveling activities were being reviewed as they hadn’t ruled out terrorism as a possible motive. Authorities said that he had arrived shortly before 1 p.m. local time in Ft. Lauderdale on a connecting flight from Alaska. He had begun firing indiscriminately after retrieved a 9mm semi-automatic handgun from his luggage. Chip LaMarca, the Broward County Commissioner said on Twitter that the gunman had gone into the restroom for loading his gun and had begun firing. Witnesses said that he had stopped firing once his ammo ran out and surrendered to the police.
A cellphone video was posted on social media, which showed two victims lying in a pool of blood due to head wounds while others were kneeling on the floor and treating victims next to the carousel. Witnesses also said that the gunman, who was wearing a ‘Star Wars’ T-shirt, stayed silent during the firing. Rick Scott, the Governor of Florida, said that this was a senseless evil act. A spokesman for the White House said that President Barrack Obama had talked to the Florida governor and Barbara Sharief, the Broward County Mayor.
He had also given his condolences to the families of the victims. Apart from the five killed, about eight were injured due to the gunfire and about three dozen people were taken to the hospital to be treated for broken bones and bruises suffered in the chaos of the massacre. Piro revealed that in November of last year, Santiago had turned up at an FBI office in Anchorage and had behaved erratically. They had handed him over to the local police who had taken him to a medical facility to be mentally evaluated.
A federal law enforcement official disclosed that Santiago had spoken to the agents at the Anchorage office. He had claimed that a U.S. intelligence agency was controlling his mind and had ordered him to watch Islamic State videos. According to the Pentagon, Santiago had served from 2007 to 2016 in the Alaska National Guard and Puerto Rican National Guard. He had also been deployed in Iraq from 2010 to 2011. A combat engineer and a private first class, Santiago had also been awarded half a dozen medals. In August of last year, he had been transferred to the inactive ready reserve. His aunt said that he had become a different person after his deployment.