The shooting of multiple people at Fort Lauderdale Airport on Friday is another national tragedy. The shooter has been identified as Esteban Santiago, 26, of Alaska. He went to the baggage claim on Friday afternoon and picked up his one piece of checked luggage which contained only a handgun.
On Friday, the airport was a mad scene of people running for their lives as gunshots rang out. People fled from the shooter and dozens were injured in the rushed evacuation. There were reports that some victims suffered sprains and bruises and others had broken bones.
According to CNN, Santiago reportedly had a mental evaluation after a visit to an FBI office in Alaska before he allegedly fired until he ran out of bullets, and then got on the ground to wait for police. Five people were killed and 8 more were wounded.
This type of shooting tragedy is just one of many scenes that may have been preventable with proper mental health treatment.
Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter – Who is Esteban Santiago?
CNN reported that Alaska was the site of Santiago’s last military assignment: he was a member of the Alaska Army National Guard from November 2014 until August. He was discharged for unsatisfactory performance. In November, Santiago paid a visit to the FBI office in Anchorage. He told agents he was being directed by a US intelligence agency to fight for ISIS, law enforcement sources told CNN.
George Piro, the FBI’s special agent in charge, told reporters that Santiago was turned over to local authorities and he voluntarily submitted to a mental health evaluation.
Santiago, a nine year National Guard Veteran, has also served a 10-month tour in Iraq. He was awarded a combat action badge, per military sources.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said that Santiago didn’t resist when he was taken into custody. He is being held without bond on murder charges, and other charges are pending.
Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter – What Led to the Shooting?
Authorities at this time are not sure why Santiago ended up in Fort Lauderdale. As of now, there isn’t any clear evidence about a motive, although the FBI has not ruled out terrorism. The investigation is still ongoing and in its early phases. Some reports say there could have been an argument between Santiago and another passenger on the flight to Fort Lauderdale, but law enforcement sources haven’t discovered any evidence to support any incidents. In addition, the airline received no reports of any problems during the flight. A Delta spokesperson said, “Reports from customers and crew onboard the flight in question indicate that there was not a customer altercation during the flight.”
NBC News reported that Santiago may have been hearing voices. His brother Bryan mentioned that Santiago had been seeing psychological counseling in Anchorage, and that he would often fight with his family.
It isn’t clear at this time, but it is possible that combat related stress helped bring about Santiago’s mental illness, or contributed to it. It could also be true that Santiago was discharged from the military as a result of mental illness so that they could avoid paying for treatment. This has been an ongoing problem in the military.
Featured image Photo credit: Broward Sheriff’s Office