Suspect identified as Esteban Santiago, is an Iraq war veteran
Houston : An Army veteran, who had told FBI that he was being forced to fight for ISIS, opened fire in the baggage area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, killing five people and wounding eight others, the latest mass shooting incident to rock the US.
The 26-year-old suspect, identified as Esteban Santiago who had been treated for mental health issues, drew a gun from his checked luggage on arrival at the busy airport and opened fire in the baggage claim area Friday, authorities said. Santiago, who was wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, was taken into custody. His motive was not immediately known.
Florida’s Broward County Sheriff’s office said five people were dead and eight others had been taken to a nearby hospital.
The shooting took place in Terminal 2 in the baggage claim area, outside the TSA checkpoint, police said. Air Canada and Delta Airlines operate out of Terminal 2.
People were corralled onto the tarmac and paramedics were at the scene, police said. All services at the airport were temporarily suspended, the airport tweeted.
Later, the Fort Lauderdale airport announced at 10:00 GMT via Twitter that they were again open for business.
A Iraq war veteran, Santiago was discharged from the Alaska Army National Guard last year due to unsatisfactory performance. In November, Santiago paid a visit to the FBI office in Anchorage, telling agents he was being directed by a US intelligence agency to fight for ISIS, CNN reported, citing law enforcement sources. George Piro, the special agent in charge in Miami, told reporters that Santiago was turned over to local authorities and he voluntarily submitted to a mental health evaluation.
The military said Santiago’s nine years of service in the guard included one 10-month tour of Iraq, where he was awarded a combat action badge.
“The President (Barack Obama), on behalf of the American people, extended his sincere condolences to the families and other loved ones of those killed and noted that his thoughts and prayers are with the wounded,” said Ned Price, Spokesman of National Security Council, the White House. Federal authorities will continue to assist the ongoing investigation into this horrific shooting, Price said.
Earlier, Obama spoke by phone with Florida Governor Rick Scott and Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief following the tragic loss of life in the incident.
“Monitoring the terrible situation in Florida. Just spoke to Governor Scott. Thoughts and prayers for all. Stay safe!,” US President-elect Donald Trump said in a tweet. Hundreds of people were standing on the tarmac as dozens of police cars and ambulances rushed to the scene. Police received a call just before 1300 local time about shots fired at Terminal Drive.
Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said in a tweet, “I’m at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Shots have been fired. Everyone is running.” A Miami TV station tweeted footage claiming to be from inside the baggage terminal. The video shows several injured people lying on the floor as witnesses shout for medical help.