Esteban Santiagowore a red jumpsuit, and was restrained with shackles on his wrists and ankles as he was taken from the Broward County main jail to the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Monday
Esteban Santiago Ruiz walks through the terminal calmly shooting fellow passengers and airport users at Fort Lauderdale aiport, Friday
Esteban Santiagothe New Jersey born Iraq vet accused of executing fatally shooting innocent bystanders during a shooting spree, Friday, faces the death penalty. At his first appearance in federal court Monday, where he was formally charged with killing five people at the baggage claim of a Florida airport.
Santiago, a 26-year-old Iraq security guard working in Alaska, was charged with carrying out violence at an airport and killing with a firearm for his alleged gun rampage Friday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
A judge informed Santiago that if he is convicted, he could face the death penalty, before he was remanded without bond.
Authorities said just two months after telling FBI he was hearing voices, Santiago flew 5,000 miles one-way from Alaska in a planned attack that killed five people, wounded six and injured dozens more who suffered minor injuries in the airport chaos.
In the court documents, investigators said that after Santiago’s arrival, he retrieved a 9-mm. semi-automatic handgun from his checked luggage and loaded it in a bathroom.
Then he returned to the baggage claim and walked through “while shooting in a methodical manner” 10 to 15 times, aiming at his victims’ heads, according to the criminal complaint.
“The area was crowded with newly-arrived passengers retrieving their luggage,” prosecutors said in a statement. “Santiago started shooting, aiming at his victims’ heads until he was out of ammunition.”
Traumatized passengers and airport personnel seek cover behind parked vehicles during Friday’s shooting rampage
Footage from airport surveillance cameras shows a man pulling a semi-automatic handgun from his waistband and shooting at people in the baggage carousel area in Terminal 2.
Done, Santiago calmly surrendered to police.
Wearing a red jumpsuit,Santiago was restrained with shackles on his wrists and ankles as he was taken from the Broward County main jail to the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Monday.
The suspect who recetly became a father, spoke only briefly during the hearing, confirming that he understood the charges, that he is a U.S. citizen and that he didn’t have a lawyer.He was assigned a public defender. Regarding his employment, Santiago said that for the last couple of years he had worked for an Anchorage security firm, earning about $2,000 per month. He told the court he had only $5 to $10 in his bank account.
Officials said they have not determined why Santiago chose Fort Lauderdale for the attack. They were still trying to determine if the first U.S. mass shooting in 2017 was an act of terrorism.
However, a federal complaint revealed Santiago told the investigators that his carnage was planned, right down to purchasing a one-way ticket to Florida.
Earlier, the suspects’s brother said the assault could easily have been prevented if the FBI had stepped up and used a little common sense.
“We’re not talking about someone who emerged from anonymity to do something like this”. During an interview given outside his family’s Puerto Rico home, the suspect’s brother Bryan Santiago said: “The federal government already knew about this for months, they had been evaluating him for a while, but they didn’t do anything.”
Family says feds knew Esteban Santiago was a’ticking time bomb’ yet failed to take care of him
Two months ago, Santiago sat in an FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska, claiming the CIA was forcing him to join ISIS. After he was evaluated for four days, Santiago was released without any medication or a follow-up plan.
On a more disturbing vein, several reports said agents confiscated a handgun from Santiago at the time, but returned it to him when they determined he would not be a threat. It was not clear if that was the same gun used in the attack.