Florida airport shooting suspect inspired
by Islamic State: media
Send a link to a friend
[January 18, 2017]
(Reuters) - An Iraq war veteran
accused of killing five people at a Florida airport told investigators
he was inspired by Islamic State and previously chatted online with
Islamist extremists, an FBI agent testified on Tuesday, U.S. media
Esteban Santiago, 26, was ordered held in jail until a Jan. 30
arraignment, court records show. At that time he would enter a formal
plea to charges that he opened fire in the baggage claim area of the
Fort Lauderdale airport on Jan. 6.
"He has admitted to all of the facts with respect to the terrible and
tragic events of Jan. 6," Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Del Toro said at
the federal court hearing in Fort Lauderdale, NBC 6 South Florida
television reported. "These were vulnerable victims who he shot down
Reuters was not immediately able to reach U.S. prosecutors or the
Federal Bureau of Investigation to confirm the media reports.
Santiago, a private first class in the National Guard who served in Iraq
from 2010 to 2011, traveled from Alaska to Florida with a handgun and
ammunition in his checked luggage, officials said.
Upon retrieving his gun case from the luggage carousel, he went to a
bathroom to load the weapon and then opened fire on others waiting for
their bags, investigators said.
FBI special agent Michael Ferlazzo testified Santiago told interrogators
he carried out the attack on behalf of Islamic State and that he had
been in contact with others on jihadist chat rooms who were planning
"It was a group of like-minded individuals who were all planning
attacks," Ferlazzo said, according to NBC 6.
The FBI has said Santiago previously displayed erratic behavior,
entering the FBI office in Anchorage in November and saying his mind was
being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency.
[to top of second column]
Esteban Santiago is taken from the Broward County main jail as he is
transported to the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,
U.S., January 9, 2017. Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel
The FBI turned him over to local police, who took him to a medical
facility for a mental evaluation, officials said.
Police took a handgun from him but returned it last month after a
medical evaluation found he was not mentally ill, authorities said.
Santiago used the same weapon in the airport attack, agents
testified, the Sun Sentinel reported.
His defense team did not challenge the prosecution's argument that
Santiago posed a flight risk and said he was prepared to be detained
through his trial, CNN said.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta in New York; Editing by Colleen Jenkins
and Lisa Shumaker)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.