Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting: Family Members Say Suspect ‘Lost His Mind’ a Month Ago

More details are emerging. Family members of the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect Esteban Santiago told reporters on Friday, January 6, that the Iraq War veteran had started acting strangely in the weeks prior to the tragic incident.

“Like a month ago, it was like he lost his mind,” Santiago’s aunt told reporters from Union City, N.J., Friday. “He said he saw things.” The 26-year-old suspect is currently in custody after the attack, which left five people dead and eight others wounded. Additionally, a reported 37 people were injured in the chaos of the shooting’s aftermath.

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As previously reported, a shooter opened fire at the baggage claim area near terminal 2 of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday afternoon. According to eyewitnesses, the lone gunman lay down spread-eagle on the floor after shooting to await officials’ arrest. No additional shots were fired.

Ft Lauderdale shooting
People stand on the tarmac at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a shooter opened fire inside a terminal of the airport. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

According to the Los Angeles Times, Santiago welcomed a son less than four months ago, but his mental condition began to deteriorate not long after — though he had run-ins with the law prior to that.

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George L. Piro, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Miami office, told the Times that Santiago had walked into the agency’s Anchorage, Alaska, field office in November, though he “clearly stated that he did not intend to harm anyone.” The puzzling incident led the FBI agents who spoke to him to turn him over to local law enforcement. He was subsequently brought to a medical facility for evaluation.

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During his visit to the FBI offices, a law enforcement source told the Times, Santiago complained that he was being forced to fight for the militant Islamic State, and claimed that his mind was being controlled by a U.S. spy agency.

Additionally, the suspect was arrested for assault last January after getting into a physical altercation with his girlfriend, which involved him pulling a door out of its frame to get to her.

Updates to come.

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