By NAN Contributor
News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, Fri. Jan. 6, 2017: The 26-year-old Iraq US Army veteran, who law enforcement officials say shot and killed 5 people and injured 8 others at the Fort Lauderdale Airport earlier today, has roots in the Caribbean.
NJ.com is reporting that Esteban Santiago-Ruiz was born in New Jersey but grew up in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.
His aunt and uncle told the paper that Santiago lived in New Jersey until age 2 or 3, when his family moved back to Puerto Rico. He then grew up in the southern coastal town of Penuelas in Puerto Rico, his brother, Bryan Santiago told NJ.com, and then joined Puerto Rico’s National Guard.
Santiago was deployed to Iraq in 2010 and spent a year there with the 130th Engineer Battalion, the 1013th engineer company out of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico National Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Dahlen stated.
After his tour, he was hospitalized for mental problems, and then went back to Puerto Rico, where he was reportedly in therapy for his mental problems, his family said. Santiago eventually made his way to Alaska. He joined the Alaska Army National Guard in November 2014, but received a general discharge from the Alaska Army National Guard last year for unsatisfactory performance.
A few months ago, he walked into the FBI’s office in Anchorage, claiming that the CIA was forcing him to join ISIS, officials said, adding that local police were called, and Santiago went voluntarily to a mental health facility for treatment.
Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca told reporters at the airport, where air traffic was shut down as of this afternoon, that he was told Santiago arrived in Fort Lauderdale with a military ID on him as a passenger on Delta from Anchorage, Alaska to Minneapolis-St. Paul to Fort Lauderdale. He checked a gun in his bag and retrieved the checked bag at baggage claim.
Federal guidelines allow for passengers to check unloaded guns in a locked case, and also allows for ammunition to be placed in checked baggage.
Santiago then went to the bathroom, took out the gun, loaded it and then returned to open fire in the baggage claim area. Once the gun was empty, he tossed it aside and lay down as law enforcement officers moved in, never firing a shot.
Federal authorities have declined to give details about the shooter or his weapon, and said he was being interviewed to determine a motive.