Florida Airport Attack: Suspect Charged, Could Face Death Penalty

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Bloodshed in Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Airport

The suspect in the Florida airport attack was charged Saturday and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Esteban Santiago, a former Iraq war veteran, was charged of killing five people and wounding eight others at a busy international airport in Florida.

According to media reports, Santiago was charged with an act of violence at an international airport resulting in death. This charge carries a maximum punishment of execution and there are also weapons charges.

U.S Attorney Wifredo Ferrer, confirmed this news by saying, “Today’s charges represent the gravity of the situation and reflect the commitment of federal, state and local law enforcement personnel to continually protect the community and prosecute those who target our residents and visitors.”

Fort Lauderdale airport in Florida was in chaos Friday when Santiago recklessly opened fire with a Walther 9mm semi-automatic handgun. The bloodshed led to the death of five people and serious injury to eight travelers. The attack sent people running for safety and stirred fear among travelers.

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Who is Estaban Santiago?

Esteban Santiago was apprehended by the authorities without manifestation of restraint. The former National Guard soldier from Alaska told investigators that he planned the attack, buying a one-way ticket to the Fort Lauderdale airport.

But who is Esteban Santiago?

CNN reports say Santiago lives in Alaska where he worked as a security guard. Alaska was also the site of his last military assignment. Santiago, 26, was a member of the Alaska Army National Guard from November 2014 until August when he was demoted for unsatisfactory performance.

Santiago’s nine years of service in the National Guard included one 10-month tour of Iraq, where he was awarded a combat action badge.

Santiago Reportedly Hearing Voices

Santiago reportedly had been hearing voices prior to Friday’s attack at the Florida airport.

In November, Santiago had walked into an FBI field office in Alaska saying he was hearing voices. He told the FBI officers that the U.S. government was controlling his mind and forcing him to watch Islamic State group videos.

Aside from that, one of Santiago’s aunts told CNN that her nephew Esteban returned from Iraq a different person.

His mind was not right,” the aunt, Maria Ruiz Rivera, said in a phone interview in Spanish from her home in New Jersey. “He seemed normal at times, but other times he seemed lost. He changed.”

She added, “He talked about all the destruction and the killing of children. He had visions all the time.”

The Motive

An investigation is underway into the motives of the attack. The investigators have not ruled out terrorism as the main motive.

FBI Agent George Piro said, “We have not identified any triggers that would have caused this attack. We’re pursuing all angles on what prompted him to carry out this horrific attack.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.