Suspect in Fort Lauderdale Attack Was Iraq War Vet

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Fort Lauderdale Airport. File Photo by Steven Damron via Flickr

Fort Lauderdale Airport. File Photo by Steven Damron via Flickr

An Iraq War veteran who had said the government was forcing him to watch Islamic State videos pulled a gun from his checked bag and opened fire Friday at Fort Lauderdale’s international airport, killing five people and injuring six, reports the Washington Post.

The bloody rampage at a baggage-claim area sent people scrambling through the terminals and across the airfield at one of the busiest U.S. airports, shutting down all flights while paramedics and federal and local law enforcement officers flooded the scene.

The alleged gunman, identified as Esteban Santiago, 26, of Anchorage, was apprehended unharmed. Authorities believe he acted alone. Family members said he had struggled with mental health issues, but investigators did not rule out other motives, including terrorism.

Santiago will face federal charges. The attack at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport occurred just before 1 p.m. and also left dozens of people injured in the chaos. Investigators have interviewed more than 175 people, including Santiago’s family and the people on his two flights on Friday, which were uneventful.

“We have not ruled out anything, said FBI agent George Piro. “We continue to look at all avenues, all motives for this attack. And we continue to look at the terrorism aspect as a motive.” Investigators are trying to determine what videos Santiago actually watched, if he had any real contact with Islamic State sympathizers, and whether that motivated him to carry out the shooting.

 

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