American War Veteran Kills 5 at Airport

People take cover outside Terminal 2 of Fort  Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after the shooting.People take cover outside Terminal 2 of Fort  Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after the shooting.

An Iraq war veteran took a gun out of his checked luggage and opened fire in a crowded baggage claim area at Fort Lauderdale’s airport on Friday, killing five people, months after he showed up at an FBI office behaving erratically.

Esteban Santiago, 26, who was taken into custody immediately following the shooting and questioned at length, was expected to face federal charges in the shooting rampage, said George Piro, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s office in Miami, Reuters reported.

Piro said investigators had not ruled out terrorism as a possible motive in the rampage and were reviewing the suspect’s recent travel.

Santiago, who had served in the US military, had arrived in Ft. Lauderdale shortly before 1 p.m. local time (1800 GMT) on a connecting flight from Alaska, authorities said, when he retrieved a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun from his checked luggage and began firing indiscriminately.

In addition to the five killed, eight others were wounded by gunfire and some three dozens were taken to local hospitals with bruises or broken bones suffered in the chaos surrounding the shooting massacre.

Piro said Santiago had turned up at an FBI office in Anchorage in November of last year behaving erratically and was turned over to local police, who took him to a medical facility for a mental evaluation.

A federal law enforcement official told Reuters that Santiago told agents at the Anchorage office in November that his mind was being controlled by a US intelligence agency, which was ordering him to watch the videos of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.

Santiago served from 2007 to 2016 in the Puerto Rico National Guard and Alaska National Guard, including a deployment to Iraq from 2010 to 2011, according to the Pentagon.

A private first class and combat engineer, he received half a dozen medals before being transferred to the inactive ready reserve in August last year.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints