Fort Lauderdale Alleged Shooter is Iraq War Vet with History of Domestic Violence

HeadlineJan 09, 2017
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Video has emerged of the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport on Friday, which left five people dead and eight more people wounded after alleged gunman Esteban Santiago opened fire in the crowded baggage claim area in Terminal 2. Twenty-six-year-old Santiago, who was born in New Jersey and grew up in Puerto Rico, is an Iraq War veteran who deployed with the 130th Engineer Battalion in 2010. He was later discharged from the Alaska Army National Guard for “unsatisfactory performance.” In November, Santiago walked into the Alaska FBI office and said he was being controlled by U.S. intelligence. He was briefly institutionalized, and his gun was seized. But law enforcement authorities returned his gun to him about a month later. CNN is reporting Santiago used the same gun during Friday’s attack, which he had checked into his baggage legally during his flight from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale. This is Santiago’s brother, Bryan.

Bryan Santiago: “He went to the FBI offices in Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska, to explain to them what he was seeing, the voices he was hearing, that the government was writing to him in secret code for him to do certain things. It’s their fault, because there are people who never go to the government to ask for help. And when a barbaric act like this happens and when they evaluate them, the psychologists and psychiatrists understand that their mind isn’t well. What more that a person who went ahead of time to explain the situation? They knew it was going to happen.”

Esteban Santiago also has a history of domestic abuse. Last January, Santiago’s then-girlfriend told prosecutors he threatened her, broke down the bathroom door, where she was hiding, then hit and strangled her. He was later arrested and released on the condition he’d avoid all contact with the victim—terms he later violated. The shooting in the Fort Lauderdale airport came as lawmakers in Florida were preparing to consider legislation that would loosen prohibitions on firearms in Florida. The legislation, which was proposed last month, would eliminate some of Florida’s “gun-free zones”—which currently include airport terminals.

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