Gunman, 26, behind deadly Fort Lauderdale shooting is a mentally ill Iraq war veteran

By Emily Crane and Ashley Collman For Dailymail.com and Associated Press

R Fort Lauderdale shooting is a mentally ill Iraq war veteran who claims the ‘government is controlling his mind by making him fight for ISIS’

  • Esteban Santiago, 26, opened fire at Florida’s Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport
  • Five people were killed and another eight were injured during Friday’s shooting 
  • Santiago was an Iraq war veteran who was suffering from mental health issues
  • His family said he was hospitalized last month for his psychiatric problems 
  • He told FBI in November he was being forced to fight for ISIS by the government
  • Santiago was born in New Jersey but moved to Puerto Rico when he was two
  • He had been living in Anchorage, Alaska with his girlfriend from 2014-2016 

he gunman behind the deadly shooting at Florida’s Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport is an Iraq war veteran who had recently become a father and was suffering mental health issues.

Esteban Santiago, 26, left five people dead and eight wounded when he opened fire in the airport’s baggage claim terminal on Friday.

His family have said Santiago was struggling with psychiatric problems in the lead up to the shooting and had recently been hospitalized for treatment in Anchorage, Alaska.

Esteban Santiago, the 26-year-old gunman behind the deadly shooting at Florida’s Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport, was an Iraq war veteran suffering mental health issues

Fort Lauderdale shooting: ‘Multiple people killed’ in attack

His brother Bryan Santiago, who lives in Puerto Rico, said his family got a call in recent months from Santiago’s girlfriend alerting them to the situation.

He said he didn’t know what his brother was being treated for and that they never talked about it over the phone.

The incident that sparked his hospitalization occurred in November when Santiago walked into an FBI office in Anchorage claiming the government was controlling his mind and forcing him to watch videos for ISIS, CBS reports.

A law enforcement official said the FBI interviewed him and then called the police, who took him for a mental health evaluation.

He was also contacted by the FBI after an employer back in Alaska raised concerns about certain things he had said, according to ABC News.

Santiago was born in New Jersey but moved to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico when he was two years old with his mother and brother.

He grew up in the southern coastal town of Penuelas before serving with the Puerto Rico National Guard from 2007. He eventually joined the Alaska National guard from 2014 to 2016.

Santiago, who served in Iraq in 2010 as a combat engineer (right), recently welcomed a child (left) with his girlfriend in Anchorage, Alaska in September

A firearm (believed to be pictured) was Santiago's only piece of checked luggage when he flew from Alaska to Florida on Delta via Minneapolis on Friday 

A firearm (believed to be pictured) was Santiago’s only piece of checked luggage when he flew from Alaska to Florida on Delta via Minneapolis on Friday

Cellphone video showed victims on the floor next to a carousel, with people on their knees attempting to provide aid. At least two victims had pools of blood from apparent head wounds

Cellphone video showed victims on the floor next to a carousel, with people on their knees attempting to provide aid. At least two victims had pools of blood from apparent head wounds

Santiago was deployed to Iraq in 2010 and spent a year there with the 130th Engineer Battalion.

A private first class and combat engineer, he received half a dozen medals before receiving a general discharge for unsatisfactory performance in August last year.

He had been living in Anchorage, Alaska with his girlfriend for two years before they welcomed a child in September last year.

His aunt Maria Ruiz told NorthJersey.com that Santiago had returned from Iraq acting strangely but had seemed happy after the birth of his child.

But she said something happened to him about a month ago and he was hospitalized for two weeks. She did not have details of his condition.

‘Like a month ago, it was like he lost his mind. He said he saw things,’ she said.

Santiago’s brother Bryan Santiago speculated about a motive for the shooting, saying he could have suffered a ‘flashback’ from his time in Iraq, despite never being diagnosed with PTSD, NBC reports.

Santaigo's aunt Maria Ruiz, who lives in New Jersey, said that Santiago had returned from Iraq acting strangely but had seemed happy after the birth of his child last year

Santaigo’s aunt Maria Ruiz, who lives in New Jersey, said that Santiago had returned from Iraq acting strangely but had seemed happy after the birth of his child last year

Authorities investigate the home of Maria Luisa Ruiz in Union City, New Jersey. Ruiz is the aunt of the Esteban Santiago, the main suspect in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Shooting on Friday

Authorities investigate the home of Maria Luisa Ruiz in Union City, New Jersey. Ruiz is the aunt of the Esteban Santiago, the main suspect in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Shooting on Friday

Authorities closed off the street where Santiago's aunt lived in Union City, New Jersey on Friday night as they investigated the deadly shooting

Authorities closed off the street where Santiago’s aunt lived in Union City, New Jersey on Friday night as they investigated the deadly shooting

He said had recently been fighting with people back in Alaska, including his girlfriend who he was having relationship issues with.

He said Santiago, who was ‘was pro-America’, has not spoken to his family for several weeks, which was unusual.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here