Law enforcement officials have not ruled out terrorism as a possible motive behind yesterday’s shooting rampage that killed five five people and injured 8 others at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport. The suspect opened fire in an airport baggage claim and was taken into custody without incident by a Broward County sheriff’s deputy.
The suspect had been identified as Esteban Santiago, 26, an Army veteran who served as a combat engineer before his discharge for “unsatisfactory performance,” said Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, a spokeswoman.
Santiago was armed with a semi-automatic handgun and was “indiscriminately firing” at people in a “cowardly, heinous act.”, said Sheriff Scott Israel.
Santiago arrived in Fort Lauderdale early Friday aboard a Delta flight that originated Thursday in Anchorage and passed through Minneapolis. When he arrived in Fort Lauderdale, he retrieved a handgun from his checked luggage and loaded it before launching the assault.
In November, the Santiago showed up at the FBI office in Anchorage, complaining that the CIA had helped the Islamic State gain control of his mind, and they were urging him to fight on behalf of ISIS.
“His erratic behavior concerned FBI agents,” said George Piro, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Miami field office.
The FBI conducted a background check, learning of his military record, which included service in Iraq, but found no connection to terror groups. Determining that the man apparently needed psychiatric care, the FBI alerted local law enforcement and turned him over to their custody for a medical referral. It is not clear whether Santiago received treatment following that incident.
Flights resumed at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Saturday morning, although some flights are canceled or delayed.
The airport reopened at 5 a.m. Saturday after being shut down for nearly 16 hours following the attack. Terminal 2, the center of the attack, was still an active crime scene early Saturday.