Ft. Lauderdale Shooter Faces No Terrorism Charges In Airport Terror Attack Indictment
A Federal Grand Jury has issued a 22-count indictment on the suspect that shot up the baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport earlier this month. Esteban Santiago has been formally charged with 11 counts of causing death or bodily harm at an international airport, five counts of causing death during a crime of violence and six counts of using a firearm during a crime. None of the charges are terrorism related, despite Santiago claiming the attack was inspired by ISIS after being arrested. If convicted, Santiago could face the death penalty.
On January 6, 2017 Santiago opened fire on Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport in Broward County, Florida, after disembarking from a flight from Anchorage, AK. He retrieved his legally transported firearm from his checked luggage, loaded the firearm in the bathroom, then opened fire as he left the restroom, killing five people and injuring six others. After carrying out the attack, Santiago claimed that the shooting was inspired by videos and chat rooms affiliated with the Islamic State extremist group. Despite these assertions, none of the charges brought against Santiago are terrorism related.
Santiago laid down on the airport floor after exhausting his ammunition and was arrested. F.B.I investigators have confirmed that Santiago believed he was the subject of C.I.A mind-control experiments. Santiago reportedly visited an F.B.I office in Anchorage to complain about hearing voices and other side effects of these alleged experiments in 2016.
He was taken into police custody and forced to complete a brief stay in a local mental hospital. The gun used in the attack was confiscated for a short period before being returned when he was released from the hospital in 2016. He was released despite complaints that he was suffering from PTSD caused by time serving in Iraq. F.B.I agents claim he did not make any indications that he was involved with any form of ISIS propaganda at this time. They claim he made no assertions that he was inspired by ISIS until after he carried out the attack.
Santiago claims that he was in touch with fellow home-grown jihadis prior to the shooting. He states that they shared plans and discussed strategy for attacks, though no terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The F.B.I has also cast doubts on whether or not his assertions that he was in contact with ISIS agents are true.
Santiago is being held without bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday before United States Magistrate Judge Barry L. Seltzer in Fort Lauderdale.