Esteban Santiago the suspected gunman in the Ft. Lauderdale shooting, had a history of domestic violence, and federal authorities claim he told them voices in his head wanted him to join ISIS in 2016, Daily Beast reports.
Santiago started firing in the baggage claim area, which more than a decade after 9/11 remains largely accessible at most airports. Five people were killed and eight were wounded. When he ran out of bullets, Santiago allegedly dropped the gun and lay still, waiting to be arrested.
The 26-year-old is from Anchorage, Alaska, where he faced domestic violence charges for smacking and strangling his 40-year-old girlfriend, then going back to her residence upon his release. In March, he entered a deferred prosecution agreement, in which prosecutors dismissed charges against him in exchange for his completing unknown requirements.
Prior to the shooting rampage, he flew to Ft. Lauderdale from Alaska, checking a handgun in his luggage, then retrieving it at the baggage claim. He then went into a bathroom, loaded it and came out firing, officials say.
Santiago served in the Puerto Rico Army National Guard in 2007, was deployed to Iraq in April 2010 as a combat engineer and returned to the U.S. in 2011. In November 2014, he moved to Alaska and joined the Alaska National Guard.
He was given a general discharge from the military in August for “unsatisfactory performance,” after going AWOL several times.
Santiago’s brother, Bryan, described him as, “pro-American” and “spiritual.”
Santiago visited an FBI office in Anchorage in 2016, saying voices told him to fight for ISIS, according to multiple sources relying on FBI and family accounts. Those accounts say Santiago claimed he was being controlled by the CIA to watch ISIS videos as well. Santiago’s brother said he received psychological counseling.
According to his aunt, Santiago had a child in September and was recently hospitalized for two weeks.
“Like a month ago, it was like he lost his mind,” Maria Luisa Ruiz of New Jersey said. “He said he saw things.”
(image via Twitter screengrab)