Airport shooter gets 5 consecutive life sentences plus 120 years in prison

Esteban Santiago pleaded guilty to 2017 shooting rampage to avoid death penalty

By Peter Burke - Managing Editor, Associated Press

MIAMI - An Alaska man has been sentenced to life in prison for last year's shooting rampage at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Esteban Santiago was sentenced Friday in Miami federal court to five consecutive life terms, plus 120 years.

In May, Santiago pleaded guilty to 11 charges as part of a plea deal in which prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

The 28-year-old pleaded guilty to five counts of committing violence causing death at an international airport and six counts of committing violence causing serious bodily injury at an international airport.

Santiago confessed to opening fire in a baggage claim area at the airport on Jan. 6, 2017, killing five people and wounding six others.

"While nothing can ever heal the wounds inflicted by the defendant's unspeakable 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," U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg said after the sentencing. "Though we all hope that such tragedy never again occurs, law enforcement remains committed to making our community safer and caring for victims of crime when tragedy strikes."

An Iraq war veteran, Santiago was diagnosed as schizophrenic but was found competent to understand legal proceedings.

Santiago initially told the FBI after the shooting he was under government mind control, then switched to unfounded claims he acted in support of the Islamic State extremist group.

Copyright 2018 by WPLG The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.