Monday, January 30, 2017
Suspect in Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting Pleads Not Guilty
The Associated Press
Esteban Santiago, 26, faces 22 charges in a Florida airport shooting spree on Jan. 6 that left five people dead and six wounded.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — One by one, a judge detailed the 22 charges against an Alaskan man accused of killing five people and wounding six others in a Florida airport shooting spree. Then the man, Esteban Santiago, pleaded not guilty.
Mr. Santiago, 26, stood on Monday in chains wearing a red “max custody inmate” jumpsuit as a United States magistrate judge, Barry Seltzer, took the unusual step of reading the entire 17-page indictment aloud in court — with repeated emphasis on the victims’ names. After each count, Mr. Santiago said he understood, and when asked if he realized he could receive the death penalty if convicted, he replied, “Yes, I do.”
Mr. Santiago, an Iraq war veteran who lived in Anchorage, was taken into custody shortly after investigators said he opened fire in a baggage claim area on Jan. 6 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
He is being held without bail on charges of causing death or bodily harm at an international airport, causing death during a crime of violence and using a firearm during a crime of violence. His court-appointed lawyers declined to comment after the hearing.
According to the F.B.I., Mr. Santiago flew on a one-way ticket from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale with a 9-millimeter Walther handgun and two ammunition clips in a case in checked luggage. The authorities have said he picked up the case, loaded the gun in a bathroom and came out firing randomly at other travelers.
Mr. Santiago was arrested after firing 15 shots. The F.B.I. has said he told agents he carried out the shooting because of some form of government mind control, later saying he was inspired by videos and chat rooms linked to the Islamic State.
The indictment contains no terrorism-related charges despite those claims.
The F.B.I. previously said Mr. Santiago had visited its office in Anchorage last year complaining about hearing voices and supposed C.I.A. mind control, which led to the temporary seizure of his gun by the Anchorage police and his brief stay in a mental hospital.
Records at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute show that Mr. Santiago was given anti-anxiety medications but no prescriptions for drugs that would have treated serious mental conditions such as schizophrenia. He was released after a five-day stay with no restrictions that might prevent him from possessing a gun, and his weapon was returned to him by the police. That same gun was used in the airport shooting.
A trial date has not been set.