Ft. Lauderdale airport shooter sentenced to life in prison



No bail for Ft. Lauderdale airport shooting suspect

Phil Keating reports from the Broward County courthouse

The 26-year-old airline passenger that five people were killed and wounded seven when he opened fire on the Foot. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport last year was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on Friday.

Esteban Santiago, now 28, pleaded guilty to five counts of committing acts of violence at the airport in connection with the mass shooting on Jan. 6, 2017. He also pleaded guilty to six counts of committing acts of violence at an international airport of causing serious physical injury.

On Friday, U. S. District Judge Beth Bloom sentenced Santiago Ruiz five consecutive life terms for the killing and six consecutive 20 years for the cause of injury.

Judge Bloom called the rampage “85 seconds of evil” and said that they found it difficult to “separate the evil from the acts of the evil in the man.”

“You have destroyed families in this senseless attack,” the judge said.


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An Iraq war veteran, Santiago was diagnosed after the shooting as schizophrenic but was found competent to understand legal proceedings. Doctors say that he has improved with anti-psychotic medication.

“While nothing can even heal the wounds inflicted by the defendant’s heinous and horrific acts of violence, we hope that the life sentence imposed today provides at least some sense of justice for the victims and their loved ones,” the Prosecutor of the V. S. Benjamin G. Greenberg said in a statement after the sentencing. “Although we all hope that this tragedy never happens again, law enforcement remains dedicated to making our community safer and to care for victims of crime when disaster strikes.”

According to the court documents, Santiago on board a Delta flight from Anchorage, Alaska, the check of only one item: a hard case with a gun.

When he arrived at the Florida airport, the Iraqi war veteran recovered from his luggage from the baggage claim, went to a bathroom and loaded with a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.

He came out of the bathroom and started shooting at people waiting at the baggage claim area.

Five people were killed and six people were seriously injured.


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Once in Santiago ran out of ammunition, he was confronted with a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy, who arrested him without incident.

After his arrest by the FBI revealed that agents in Alaska had previous contact with Santiago, when he told them in November 2016 that the government is in control of his thoughts and forced him to look at the Islamic State group videos.

The Sun-Sentinel reported that he was agitated and incoherent when he spoke with FBI agents and had a loaded magazine on him. He dropped his gun and son in a car.

The FBI notified local police, who take him in for a psychological evaluation. The police took a loaded gun from him.

The newspaper reported that 10 days after the FBI visit, the police in Alaska sent Santiago a letter to him to pick up his gun. The firearm was released him on Dec. 8.

It is unclear if it was the same gun used in the shooting.

Four weeks later, Santiago to board the flight using a one-way ticket to Florida.

Santiago, a native of New Jersey, has family in Puerto Rico and a young son in Alaska, court records show. He did not speak in court Friday and no family members spoke on his behalf.

“While this sentence cannot erase what happened, it might serve to demonstrate societal commitment to honor and to remember those who suffered that day,” Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent Responsible for the FBI in Miami, said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang a Reporter for Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

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