Guns

Ft. Lauderdale Gunman Allegedly Strangled Ex-Girlfriend

| by Kathryn Schroeder

The man accused of opening fire on Jan. 6 in the baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida was reportedly being prosecuted for domestic violence.

Esteban Santiago, the 26-year-old gunman, allegedly assaulted his then-girlfriend on Jan. 10, 2016 through a locked bathroom door, according to charging documents obtained by The Daily Beast from the Anchorage, Alaska, prosecutor’s office.

“Get the f**k out, b**ch,” he allegedly said to the 40-year-old woman.

He then reportedly forced his way into the bathroom by breaking down the door, hit the woman on the head and strangled her.

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Santiago fled the scene before police arrived, but was later arrested. Authorities released him on the condition that he not have contact with the woman, but in February 2016 Anchorage police found Santiago at her residence, and then charged him with violating the conditions of his release -- a case that is still pending.

In a deferred prosecution agreement in March 2016 for Santiago’s assault case, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charges against him in exchange for his completion of requirements. What the requirements were are unknown.

Anchorage municipal prosecutor Seneca Theno told The Daily Beast that the charges will likely not be dropped given Santiago’s alleged attack in Florida.

According to a Jan. 6 Facebook post by Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca, Santiago arrived at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and collected his checked bag containing a gun. He then went in to the bathroom, loaded the gun and proceeded back to baggage claim where he opened fire on passengers.

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He shot 13 people, killing five and injuring eight.

Santiago, a veteran of the Iraq war who may suffer from a mental illness, is in custody, the BBC reports.

Sources told CBS News that Santiago was known to the FBI, and that in November he walked into the department’s office in Anchorage and told agents he was being forced to fight for ISIS, according to NJ Advance Media. 

Maria Ruiz Rivera, Santiago’s aunt, said that he “lost his mind” in Iraq, but had appeared to be doing well while working as a security guard in Alaska. She said he has a newborn baby boy.

Hernan Rivera, the gunman’s uncle, said he does not know why he would have attacked people.

"Only thing I could tell you was when he came out of Iraq, he wasn't feeling too good," he said.

Authorities have not established a motive in the shooting, but have not ruled out terrorism.

The airport was closed following the shooting, but has since reopened, except for the terminal where the shooting happened.

Sources: The Daily Beast, Chip LaMarca/Facebook, BBCNJ Advance Media / Photo credit: Anchorage Police via The Daily Beast

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