Florida’s Fort Lauderdale airport witnesses horror in yet another deadly attack, as a gunman unleashed bullets on travelers at the airport on Friday, killing five and injuring many. The suspected gunman in the shooting rampage, Esteban Santiago, 26, is an Iraq War veteran who has been charge with federal crimes, and could potentially face the death penalty according to the Justice Department.
The airport terminal was plunged into chaos as shooter Esteban Santiago took the 9mm handgun out of his case and sprayed a jet of bullets on travelers. People started running for covers again when rumors of a possible second shooter and more gunshots swept through the airport. Almost 40 people were injured in the hurried evacuation; they suffered sprains and bruises as people rushed towards the exit doors of the terminal.
Estenban Santiago lived and worked as a security guard in Alaska, which was also the site of his last military assignment. He was apparently a member of the Alaska Army National Guard from November 2014 until August when he was removed for inadequate performance. According to law enforcement sources, Estenban Santiago visited FBI office in Anchorage, claiming that he was being directed by “voices” to watch videos of the Islamic State.
FBI’s special agent in charge based out of Miami, George Piro said that Santiago was handed over to local authorities and the shooter submitted himself voluntarily for a mental health evaluation. Santiago’s tenure of nine years in the National Guard included a 10-month tour to Iraq, from where he, according to his aunt, returned as an erratic man. He was distant and kept minimal contacts with her.
Santiago allegedly flew from Anchorage to Minneapolis to Fort Lauderdale on a Delta Airlines flight. He had one checked-in bag, which was a handgun case with a loaded pistol. Piro is of the belief that he came precisely to carry out the deadly attack, but no triggers behind the same have been identified yet. It was very early to disregard terrorism or determine Santiago’s exact motive as investigations are taking pace.
As a result of the attack, the Fort Lauderdale airport was closed for Friday, and over ten thousand travelers had their plans disrupted for hours. About 149 departures and 159 arrivals were canceled as per the data received from flight tracking website FlightAware. However, the airport service resumed to normal on Saturday when roads reopened for passengers and airport employees.