Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect ordered held without bond

FBI says Alaska police seized, returned gun used in attack to Esteban Santiago

By Peter Burke - Managing Editor, Michael Seiden - Reporter, Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The man suspected of fatally shooting five people and wounding six others at a South Florida airport was ordered Tuesday to be held without bond while he awaits trial.

During a hearing in Fort Lauderdale, an FBI agent confirmed that the 9mm gun used in the Jan. 6 shooting rampage at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is the same weapon that Anchorage, Alaska, police seized and later returned to Esteban Santiago, 26, last year.

The FBI said that Santiago flew from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale, took the gun out of a checked gun box, loaded it in a bathroom and started randomly firing at innocent victims in a baggage claim area.

According to revelations made by prosecutors in court, Santiago spent five days in a psychiatric hospital in Anchorage, where he was given anti-anxiety and sleeping medications. The FBI said none of the drugs were to treat mental illness.

Prosecutors said Santiago walked into the FBI office in Anchorage on Nov. 6 and told federal agents that he was hearing voices and that his mind was being controlled by the CIA. That led to his psychiatric evaluation.

The FBI said the gun used in the attack was later returned to Santiago after he was released from the hospital, where doctors determined that Santiago was stable. The FBI said Santiago picked up his gun after he was interviewed twice by federal agents.

Agents said Santiago, who legally purchased the gun and had a permit to carry a firearm, spent time at shooting ranges in Alaska.

Prosecutors claim there were 20 security cameras that captured Santiago's actions from the time he got off the plane to when he opened fire in Terminal 2.

Investigators said Santiago told them he visited the "dark web" shortly before the rampage, going from chat room to chat room speaking to ISIS members and sympathizers who were plotting other attacks. The FBI is investigating to determine if there is any validity to his statements.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow ruled that Santiago should remain in custody, deeming him a flight risk and a threat to the community. She set a Jan. 30 arraignment hearing.

Santiago could get the death penalty if convicted of federal airport violence and firearms charges that resulted in death. He has yet to enter a plea.

Most of the six victims who were killed in the attack were in South Florida for a cruise. They were identified as Shirley Timmons, 70, of Ohio; Mary Amzibel, 69, of Ohio; Michael Oehme, 57, of Council Bluffs, Iowa; Olga Woltering, 84, of Marietta, Georgia; and Terry Andres, 62, of Virginia Beach, Virginia. 

One gunshot victim remained in serious condition at Broward Health Medical Center as of Tuesday morning.

Copyright 2017 by WPLG The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.