Florida Airport shooting suspect eeported hearing ‘voices’
Workers at the Fort Lauderdale Airport in Florida in the southeastern United States have been working overnight to have the airport operational sometime Saturday after a lone gunman opened fire Friday in the baggage claim area, killing five people and wounding eight more before being detained.
The normally busy airport has been shut down since the deadly attack.
George Piro, the Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent in charge of the Miami division, said the agency is “pursuing every angle to try to determine the motive behind this attack,” including terrorism.
Suspect reportedly served in Iraq
Law enforcement officials holding the suspect say he is 26-year-old Esteban Santiago of Alaska who arrived at the airport Friday on a flight from Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska.
Santiago is reported to be a former National Guard member serving in Puerto Rico. Last year, he voluntarily checked into a hospital for mental health evaluation. He is reported to have said he was hearing imaginary voices, some of them telling him to join the terrorist group Islamic State.
Santiago spent 10 months in Iraq in 2010 and 2011. He later joined the Army National Guard in Alaska, the largest and most remote U.S. state. He is believed to have served in the Guard there from 2014 until August last year when he was discharged for unsatisfactory performance. Law enforcement officials also said Santiago spent some time working for a security company in Anchorage.
The suspect is reported to have flown to Fort Lauderdale from Anchorage, via Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is believed to have carried his semi-automatic handgun in his checked luggage, retrieved the luggage after arriving in Florida, and loaded the gun in a restroom before opening fire on the victims.
President, governor speak
President Barack Obama told ABC News Friday that he is “heartbroken” by the shooting. He added, “These kinds of tragedies have happened too often during the years that I’ve been president. ... The pain, the grief, the shock that they [the victims and witnesses] must be going through is enormous,” he said.
A few hours after the shooting, Florida Governor Rick Scott told
reporters his “heart goes out to every family impacted” by the shooting, both those of the victims and those of the injured. He said he called U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence about the shooting and had been assured they would “do everything in their power” to provide whatever assistance is needed.
Scott called the shooting “a senseless act of evil.” He said he had not reached out to Obama about the shooting, instead contacting Trump and Pence because he has a personal relationship with them.