A day after a Fort Lauderdale airpot erupted in gun fire leaving five dead and eight wounded, officials have released the name of who they believe was the shooter: Esteban Santiago-Ruiz. He is currently in federal custody in Broward County.
According to CBS News, Santiago-Ruiz had been deployed to Iraq for 10 months and later served in the Alaska National Guard. However, he received a general discharge for “unsatisfactory performance” in August 2016 and the Pentagon revealed that he had gone AWOL a few times during his stint in Alaska. Prior to this attack, Santiago-Ruiz had been working as a security guard, CNN wrote.
Bryan Santiago, the alleged shooter’s brother, told the Associated press that the Puerto Rico native had also been suffering from mental health issues and was seeking psychological treatment. It’s unknown which exact ailment the 26-year-old was being treated for, however, the FBI confirmed that last November, Santiago-Ruiz walked into an Anchorage FBI office claiming his mind was being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency and that he was being forced to watch videos for ISIS. Soon after he was sent to a psychiatric hospital, CBS noted.
in a Saturday morning press conference, FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro said that the FBI had concluded an interview with Santiago that had lasted several hours, NBC News reported. And while Piro was mum on most details of the attack, he did reveal that “[Santiago-Ruiz] here specifically to carry out this horrific attack.”
It has been reported that Santiago-Ruiz, who was traveling from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale, got in an argument on the plane, but whether that fight played a factor in the shooting is unknown.
“We have not identified any triggers that would have caused this attack,” Piro added.
He also said that the FBI is looking into any possible terrorist ties. “We have not ruled out anything,” Piro concluded. “We continue to look at all avenues, all motives.”
But what is clear is that on Friday afternoon, Santiago-Ruiz allegedly took out a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun that was in his checked bag and opened fire near a baggage claim.
A witness to the tragedy, Gene Messina, described the incident saying “I got off the plane and I saw people running and screaming,” he said. “At first I was in shock but when I saw TSA agents running, I booked.”
“At first we thought it was firecrackers,” said witness another Mark Lea. “Everyone started screaming and running.”
He told ABC News, “As a general rule, until I’ve got all the information, I don’t want to comment on it — other than just to say how heartbroken we are for the families who’ve been affected.”
POTUS added that “these kinds of tragedies have happened too often during the years that I’ve been president” and later spoke of the victims’ families, stressing “the pain, the grief, the shock that they must be going through is enormous.”
This is not Santiago-Ruiz’s first brush with the law.
CBS reported that he was also investigated as part of a child porn investigation in either 2011 or 2012, but no charges were filed.
This is a developing story and we will provide updates as they become available.