Fort Lauderdale airport shooting
|2017 Fort Lauderdale airport shooting|
|Location||Terminal 2, Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, Broward County, Florida, United States|
|Date||January 6, 2017 |
12:55 p.m. (EST)
|Weapons||Walther PPS 9mm semi-automatic pistol|
|± 42 (6 gunshot victims, around 36 with other injuries)|
A mass shooting occurred at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport in Broward County, Florida, United States, on January 6, 2017, near the baggage claim in Terminal 2. Five people were killed while six others were injured in the shooting. About 36 people sustained injuries in the ensuing panic. Esteban Santiago-Ruiz, who committed the shooting, was taken into custody within 90 seconds after he started shooting, surrendering to responding sheriff's deputies. He was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and pleaded guilty.
The shooter opened fire with a Walther PPS 9mm semi-automatic pistol in the airport at about 12:53 p.m. EST, in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2, which is the host terminal for Delta Air Lines and Air Canada. Video showed travelers rushing out of the airport and hundreds of people waiting on the ramp as numerous law enforcement officers rushed to the scene. Part of the panic occurred following "unfounded reports of additional gunshots"; the false alarm touched off a brief panic in other terminals. Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted from the airport, "Shots have been fired. Everyone is running."
The shooting lasted about 70 to 80 seconds. The suspect lay down on the floor after he stopped shooting, having run out of ammunition. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel stated that law enforcement officers did not fire shots and that the gunman was arrested without further incident.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop notice, closing the airport to all but emergency flights. Port Everglades, staffed by American Red Cross, assisted about 10,000 passengers who were bused there for food, shelter and to connect to transportation. The airport remained closed for the remainder of the day, but reopened to commercial flights early the following day. Following the shooting, more than 20,000 pieces of baggage were left at the airport amid the chaos. Passengers were contacted by the FBI as a result of the shooting.
President Obama was briefed about the shooting by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco. President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that he was monitoring the situation and that he had spoken with Florida Governor Rick Scott regarding the shooting. President Obama later consoled the victims and stated that he had asked his staff to reach out to Mayor Jack Seiler in order to make sure efforts were coordinated between state and local officials. Scott ordered flags of the United States and of Florida to be flown at half-mast throughout the state on January 7 and 8 to honor the victims.
Five people died in the attack, all of whom were passing through Fort Lauderdale to begin cruises with their spouses. The number of people injured due to the shooting was six, with three admitted to intensive care units. The sheriff said that in addition to the people injured by gunshots, about 30 to 40 others were "injured in the panic" during the event.
Broward County Sheriff's Office mugshot
|Born||March 16, 1990|
Union City, New Jersey, U.S.
Santiago flew on a Delta Air Lines flight from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska, connecting through Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport. Investigators say that he declared a 9mm pistol with two magazines, locked in a secure container, his only checked baggage. He retrieved it in Fort Lauderdale and loaded the gun in the airport bathroom just before the attack. Santiago was reported to be carrying military identification at the time of the shooting.
Santiago was born in New Jersey in 1990 and moved to Puerto Rico two years later. He lived most of his life in Peñuelas, Puerto Rico, and attended high school there. He joined the Puerto Rico National Guard on December 14, 2007, and served in the Iraq War from April 23, 2010, to February 19, 2011, as a combat engineer. He later served in the Alaska Army National Guard from November 21, 2014, until receiving a general discharge in August 2016 for "unsatisfactory performance." He was a private first class and received ten awards during his time in the military. According to his family members, he had become mentally ill after his tour in Iraq and was severely affected by seeing a bomb explode near two of his friends while in service. They also stated he had recently received psychological treatment, which was confirmed by federal officials.
The Puerto Rico Police opened an investigation into his errant behavior and confiscated his firearms in March 2012. They were, however, returned to him in May 2014. He also obtained a Florida driver's license in August 2012 even though he never lived in Florida, per official records. He provided the license on his successful application for permission to carry a concealed gun in Puerto Rico. He later moved from Puerto Rico to Alaska, along with his brother, in the same year.
While in Alaska, Santiago worked as a security guard for a private company, where he was described as being "quiet and solitary." He became increasingly violent over the following year. In January 2016, Santiago was arrested and charged with assault in an incident involving his girlfriend in Anchorage, Alaska. Police alleged that Santiago yelled at her, broke down the door, and choked her. The case resulted in a deferred prosecution agreement, and a domestic violence temporary protection order had expired.
Santiago visited the FBI field office in Anchorage in November 2016 and reported that the U.S. government was controlling his mind and making him watch online videos by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and that he was being forced to join that group by the CIA. He stated that he was hearing voices in his head telling him to commit acts of violence, but he also said that he was in control and did not intend to hurt anyone. The FBI urged the man to seek mental health treatment and notified the local police who detained him and took him to a medical facility for a mental health evaluation. He was later investigated by the FBI, which discovered no links to terrorism or any violation of laws occurring during the Alaska incident. Alaska police took his handgun from him due to the incident, holding it for twenty nine days, but returned it in December because Santiago had not been convicted of a serious crime, involuntarily committed to a mental institution, or adjudicated as mentally defective. His weapon was not seized by the FBI, nor was he prevented from checking it for a flight, according to Karen Loeffler, the Alaska U.S. Attorney. She said federal law requires someone to be “adjudicated” as mentally ill before they can be kept from flying with a firearm. “This is not somebody that would have been prohibited, based on the information that they had,” she said of the Anchorage Police Department and the F.B.I. “We’re a country of laws, and they operate within them.” He had also been dismissed as a security guard at Signal 88 Security on November 15, due to his mental health problems.
Santiago was identified by multiple law agencies as the only suspect, having fired a semi-automatic 9mm handgun at people in the baggage claim in Terminal 2. Per court documents and a federal affidavit, Santiago admitted to planning the attack, buying a one-way ticket to the airport and checking a box with a Walther 9mm semiautomatic handgun and the two ammunition magazines he used in the shooting. He stated that he later loaded his handgun in a bathroom at the airport and "shot the first people he encountered" after coming out.
The suspect made a flight reservation to New York City, New York for December 31, 2016, which officials told ABC News might have been his preferred destination. However, he canceled the reservation, and investigators believe that the deployment of a large number of NYPD officers may have been the reason he did so. He booked a one-way ticket to Florida a few days later. Counterterrorism officials in New York meanwhile investigated his plan to visit the city and whether he planned to stay or transfer to another flight. The FBI stated that he appeared to have arrived in the city specifically to carry out the shooting. Investigators found no specific reason why he chose the airport, nor had they determined a motive.
The Qupqugiaq Inn, a motel in midtown Anchorage, was evacuated and searched on the day of the shooting as part of the investigation into the suspect. He had recently been a resident of the Qupqugiaq Inn, which offers monthly rentals. The FBI used a flatbed tow truck to seize the motel's dumpster, which was searched at their Anchorage field office. They conducted interviews with 175 witnesses and people who knew Santiago. According to government officials, Santiago had not been flagged for significant foreign travel or possible terrorism ties. However, they did not rule out terrorism as a possible motive, with the police investigating whether or not he was a homegrown terrorist or mentally disturbed.
TMZ released a leaked video of the shooting on January 8 which led to the launch of an investigation into the leak. A Broward Sheriff's Office deputy, identified as the individual who leaked the video, was put on paid suspension pending investigation.
Investigators stated that during initial interviews, the suspect said that he had been under "government mind control" and "hearing voices" and that he had been "participating in jihadi chat rooms online" before the attack. Later in April 2017, the investigators stated that no link to terrorism was found. During interviews with police after the attack, Santiago also stated that the gun used in the shooting was the same weapon seized and later returned by the police in Anchorage in 2016.
The day after the shooting, federal officials filed criminal charges against him including performing an act of violence at an international airport, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and causing the death of a person through use of a firearm.
A federal public defender was appointed for Santiago since he was unable to pay for a lawyer. He was ordered detained without bond, and was indicted on 22 federal charges on January 26. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges during a court hearing on January 30, 2017.
After his arrest, Santiago was diagnosed with schizophrenia as well as schizoaffective disorder. He initially refused to take psychotropic medication, but later took medications, and his mental condition showed marked improvement. He was deemed legally competent to stand trial. Before trial, Santiago's attorneys and federal prosecutors made a plea agreement in which Santiago would plead guilty in return for a sentence of life in prison, avoiding the death penalty, which federal prosecutors had originally considered pursuing. On May 23, 2018, Santiago pleaded guilty in the shooting. On August 17, 2018, Santiago was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences plus 120 years in prison.
- Helsel, Phil (January 7, 2017). "Suspected Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter Charged, Faces Possible Death Penalty". NBC News. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- Zachary Fagenson (January 7, 2017). "5 people dead, 8 wounded in shooting at Fort Lauderdale airport; suspect had gun in checked bag". Alaska Dispatch News. Reuters. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Mazzei, Patricia; Ovalle, David; Weaver, Jay (January 7, 2017). "Alaska cops returned gun to airport shooter, who now faces death penalty". The Miami Herald. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- Harlan, Chico; Horwitz, Sari; Wootson Jr., Cleve R. (January 7, 2017). "Suspect in Fort Lauderdale shooting charged with federal crimes, could face death penalty". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- David Fleshler; Susannah Bryan; Paula McMahon; Linda Trischitta, Contact Reporters (January 6, 2017). "Esteban Santiago: Details emerge of suspect in airport shooting". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
- Lizette Alvarez; Richard Fausset; Adam Goldman (January 6, 2017). "Florida Airport Assailant May Have Heard Voices Urging Violence, Officials Say". The New York Times.
- Ryan Van Velzer; Adam Sacasa; Paula McMahon (January 7, 2017). "Fort Lauderdale airport shooting: New details on shooting suspect, victims' conditions". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Officers mishandled response to Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, report says, leading to chaos, Miami Herald, Chabeli Herrera & Amy Sherman, June 7, 2018l Retrieved May 10, 2018.
- "Fort Lauderdale airport shooting: Five people shot dead by Florida gunman". BBC News. January 10, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
- "Obama briefed on Florida shooting, Trump speaks with governor". Fox News. January 6, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
- Nicki Rossoll (January 6, 2017). "President Obama 'Heartbroken' for Victims' Families After Fort Lauderdale Shooting". ABC News. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
- WPBF web staff (January 7, 2017). "Gov. Rick Scott orders flags at half-staff for lives lost in airport shooting". WPBF. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Joan Chrissos & Alex Harris (January 11, 2017). "Fifth person killed in Fort Lauderdale airport shooting is identified by authorities". Miami Herald.
- "Federal prosecutors file charges against Santiago, he could face the death penalty". Fox News. January 7, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- "Esteban Santiago: Gritty life on the Alaska streets". Sun-Sentinel. January 8, 2017.
- Anderson, Curt (January 9, 2017). "Airport shooting suspect gets public defender in court". The Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 10, 2017.
- Charles Rabin, Airport shooter's life in Alaska was falling apart, though few seemed to notice, Miami Herald (January 11, 2017).
- "Esteban Santiago Identified as Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter". New York, New York: WNBC. January 7, 2017.
- Hayes, Christal (January 6, 2017). "Who is Esteban Santiago?". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
- "5 dead after shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Int'l Airport". KIRO-TV. Seattle, Washington. January 6, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
- Fischer, David (January 6, 2017). "US veteran arrested in Florida airport shooting; 5 dead, 8 wounded". Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
- Mazzei, Patricia; Nehamas, Nicholas; Rosenberg, Carol; Weaver, Jay (January 6, 2017). "Suspected Fort Lauderdale shooter was a troubled Army vet". Miami Herald. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
- Lizetta Alvarez, Frances Robles & Richard Pérez-Peña, Fort Lauderdale Shooting Suspect’s Motive Remains Unclear, Officials Say, New York Times (January 7, 2017).
- "Private First Class Esteban Santiago's service record". Document Cloud. Deputy Division Chief Media Relations Division Army Public Affairs. January 6, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
- Luscombe, Richard (January 7, 2017). "Suspect in Florida airport shooting 'lost his mind' after Iraq tour, family says". The Guardian. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- McMahon, Paula (January 9, 2017). "Florida airport shooting suspect Esteban Santiago told maximum penalty is death". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- "Esteban Santiago Identified as Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter". NBC New York. January 7, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- "How accused airport killer Esteban Santiago spun out of control -- with no one to stop him". Sun Sentinel. January 14, 2017. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
- "Puerto Rico police seized guns from airport shooter Esteban Santiago". The Virgin Islands Daily News. January 14, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
- "Airport shooter Esteban Santiago had Florida driver's license". Sun Sentinel. January 20, 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
- "Suspected Airport Shooter Used Florida License For Gun Permit". CBS Miamj. January 20, 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
- "Suspected airport gunman's life unraveled over past year". The News-Review. January 15, 2017. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
- "Suspected airport gunman became increasingly erratic". Associated Press. Fox News. January 13, 2017. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
- Sanchez, Ray (January 7, 2017). "What we know about the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect". CNN. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- "Accused Florida airport shooter to appear in Alaska case by phone". KTUU-TV. March 29, 2017. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
- "Accused airport gunman to appear in Alaska case by phone, report says". The Sun Sentinel. March 29, 2017. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
- "US veteran arrested over Fort Lauderdale shooting". Al-Jazeera. January 7, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Kyle Clayton; Christopher Brennan; Jessica Schladebeck; Denis Slattery (January 7, 2017). "Suspected Fort Lauderdale Airport gunman Esteban Santiago, 26, told FBI that CIA was forcing him to join ISIS". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Caroline Linton (January 7, 2017). "Esteban Santiago-Ruiz: What we know so far about the suspected Fort Lauderdale shooter". CBS News. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Chris Johnston; Richard Luscombe (January 7, 2017). "Fort Lauderdale suspect was treated for mental health issues, say relatives". The Guardian. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Phil Helsel (January 8, 2017). "Airport Shooting Suspect Esteban Santiago Sought Help for Mental Problems: Brother". NBC News. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- Michelle Theriault Boots (January 9, 2017). "In Alaska, a high bar for taking guns from the mentally ill". Alaska Dispatch News.
- David Ovalle (January 10, 2017). "Airport shooting shows it's not easy to keep guns from the mentally ill". Miami Herald.
- O'Matz, Megan. "Disturbed airport shooter lost job but kept gun". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
- "2 months before airport shootings, Esteban Santiago lost security job due to 'documented mental illness'". KTUU-TV. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
- Watkinson, William (January 7, 2017). "Who is Esteban Santiago, the man accused of mass murder at Fort Lauderdale airport?". Yahoo! News. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Van Velzer, Ryan; Sacasa, Adam; McMahon, Paula (January 7, 2017). "Fort Lauderdale airport shooting: New details on shooting suspect, victims' conditions". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Siemaszko, Corky; Connor, Tracy (January 8, 2017). "Suspected Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter Charged, Faces Possible Death Penalty". NBC News. CNBC. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- Winsor, Morgan; Katersky, Aaron; Caplan, David; Foster, Matt (January 8, 2017). "Suspect Charged With Federal Crimes in Fort Lauderdale Airport Attack". ABC News. CNBC. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- Helsel, Phil (January 8, 2017). "Airport Shooting Suspect Esteban Santiago Sought Help for Mental Problems: Brother". NBC News. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- Ross, Brian; Schwartz, Rhonda; Margolin, Josh. "Authorities: Fort Lauderdale Suspect First Planned New Year's Eve Trip to New York". ABC News. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- Chris Herz, Nathaniel; Chris Klint; Suzanna Caldwell; Jerzy Shedlock (January 6, 2017). "Esteban Santiago, the suspect in Florida airport shooting, was an Anchorage resident". Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
- Boots, Michelle (January 8, 2017). "Anchorage mosque fields calls about Florida airport shooter as investigation continues". Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- Steve Almasy; Ray Sanchez; Evan Perez; Shimon Prokupecz. "Sources: Airport shooting suspect used gun once seized by police, confesses". CNN. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- "Authorities quiz Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport shooting suspect". News.com.au. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- Almasy, Steve; C. McLaughlin, Elliot (January 9, 2017). "Video shows moment Fort Lauderdale airport gunman opened fire". CNN. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- Barszewski, Larry. "Broward investigating how TMZ obtained video showing gunman firing first shots at Fort Lauderdale airport". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- "BSO Deputy Suspended For Leaked Video of FLL Airport Rampage". WTVJ. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
- Jay Weaver (January 17, 2017). "Airport shooter: I was under mind control and chatted with jihadi. Feds: No evidence". Miami Herald.
- "Accused Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter's Mental Health Stable: Lawyer". NBC News. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
- Curt Anderson. "Airport shooting suspect blamed 'mind control,' IS ties". Associated Press. Yahoo! News. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Peter Burk, Michael Sieden (January 17, 2017). "Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect ordered held without bond". Associated Press.
- Jon Kamp & Scott Calvert, Federal Charges Are Filed Against Accused Fort Lauderdale Airport Gunman, Wall Street Journal (January 7, 2017).
- McMahon, Paula (January 9, 2017). "Accused airport shooter Esteban Santiago told his maximum penalty 'is death'". Sun Sentinel.
- Weaver, Jay (January 9, 2017). "Airport shooting suspect appears in federal court". Miami Herald.
- Sanchez, Boris; Conlon, Kevin (January 17, 2017). "Fort Lauderdale shooter says he carried out attack for ISIS, FBI claims". CNN.
- McMahon, Paula (January 26, 2017). "Accused airport shooter Esteban Santiago indicted". Sun Sentinel.
- "Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect enters plea". CBS News. January 30, 2017.
- McMahon, Paula (January 30, 2017). "Accused airport shooter Esteban Santiago pleads not guilty to 22 charges". Los Angeles Times.
- "Lawyers: airport shooting suspect ill but legally competent". CBS12. Associated Press. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
- McMahon, Paula. "Airport shooting suspect is being treated for schizophrenia, defense team says". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
- "Lauderdale airport shooting suspect refusing psychotropic medication". Naples Times. February 4, 2017.
- McMahon, Paula. "Alleged Fort Lauderdale airport shooter refusing his medication, judge says". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
- Curt Anderson, Alaska man pleads guilty in Florida airport shooting, Associated Press (May 27, 2018).
- McMahon, Paula (June 9, 2017). "Airport shooting suspect Esteban Santiago set for trial Jan. 22". Sun Sentinel.
- McMahon, Paula (December 18, 2017). "Airport shooting suspect's trial delayed for months". Sun Sentinel.
- Airport shooter Esteban Santiago to plead guilty, spend life in prison, Sun Sentinel, Paula McMahon, May 1, 2018. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
- "Federal prosecutors seek death penalty against Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect". CNN. KDVR. January 7, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Anderson, Curt (May 23, 2018). "Alaska man pleads guilty in Florida airport shooting". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
- Detman, Gary (May 23, 2018). "Airport gunman pleads guilty, can get 5 life sentences: Report". CBS12. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
- "Alaska man pleads guilty in South Florida airport shooting". News Service of Florida. May 23, 2018. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
- Rodriguez, Alexandra (August 17, 2018). "Airport gunman sentenced to five life terms, 120 years". CBS12. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
- "Alaska man gets life in prison for South Florida airport shooting". News Service of Florida. August 17, 2018. Retrieved August 17, 2018.