Esteban Santiago, 26, was arrested today after killing five and wounding eight at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport after retrieving his luggage, which contained of his checked weapon. Santiago was taken into custody without incident and police continued to clear the airport after his arrest in case there were any accomplices. After clearing the airport, police determined he acted alone. Here is what we know about Esteban Santiago so far.
Received a general discharge from the National Guard in Aug 2016:
Esteban Santiago was discharged from the New Jersey National Guard (NJNG), not the Alaska National Guard. SOFREP spoke with a source within the Alaska National Guard and he was reportedly drilling in Alaska prior to receiving a general discharge in Aug. 2016. He still belonged to the New Jersey National Guard administratively (his HOR or home of record was still in New Jersey) and was supposed to send his training certificate into the NJNG upon the completion of each drill. He received a general discharge after being declared AWOL and missing several drill weekends. This is the “unsatisfactory performance” other news sites are reporting. He was recently demoted as well.
He was a Combat Engineer and Iraq war veteran
Santiago was a 12B (combat engineer) in the Army National Guard and he reportedly moved to Alaska to work in the oil fields. He deployed with the Puerto Rico National Guard in 2010. The Alaska National Guard unit he was assigned to, HHT, 297th CAV in Fairbanks more than likely was trying to reclassify him into a MOS or military occupational specialty within the unit (more than likely it was a scout or infantry MOS).
He has a criminal record
Esteban Santiago Ruiz has a criminal record, to include domestic violence. He was arrested for trying to strangle his girlfriend.
According to charging documents provided by the Anchorage prosecutor’s office to The Daily Beast, on January 10, 2016, Santiago verbally assaulted his then girlfriend, a 40-year old mother of one child from a previous marriage whom The Daily Beast is not naming, through a locked bathroom door, telling her to “Get the fuck out, bitch.” After he forced his way in by breaking down the door, he smacked her in the head and strangled her. By the time police arrived, Santiago had fled the scene.
Santiago was arrested days later and released on the condition that he have no contact with the victim, but in February, Anchorage police found him at his girlfriend’s residence and he was charged for violating the conditions of his release. That case is still pending.
Alaska court records show a criminal record under Santiago’s name for minor traffic infractions including operating a vehicle without insurance and a broken taillight. Records also show his landlord evicted him for non-payment of rent in February 2015.”- Daily Beast
Here are the court documents from the assault:
May have gotten into an argument on his flight
According to CBS News, Esteban Santiago Ruiz may have gotten into an argument during one of flights from Alaska to Florida.
Federal law enforcement sources told CBS News the shooter got into an argument on one leg of his travel from Alaska to Florida. The accused shooter was on a Delta flight during the second leg of his trip to Fort Lauderdale, sources said.”
However, the police chief for the Anchorage Airport indicated, Santiago only checked in the gun case. So this attack appears to be premeditated instead of spurred on by a chance argument on a flight.
Jesse Davis is chief of police at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. He told The Associated Press that 26-year-old Esteban Santiago flew out of Anchorage, Alaska, on a 9:52 p.m. Delta flight Thursday, and that a firearm was his only piece of checked luggage. He says Santiago flew from Anchorage to Minneapolis-St. Paul and on to Fort Lauderdale.” – ABC News
Visited the FBI office in Alaska
According to federal law enforcement officials, he visited an FBI office in Anchorage late last year in an encounter that prompted authorities to believe he may have mental-health issues.
Santiago went to the FBI office to report something and was expressing incoherent thoughts, officials said. When he was interviewed by agents, he said he thought the federal government was trying to control him, according to officials recounting the visit. The FBI contacted local authorities to have him undergo a mental-health check, but the officials were not sure what happened after that.- Washington Post
Law Enforcement sources told CBSNews that in Nov. 2016, he walked into an FBI office in Anchorage, AK claiming he was being forced to fight for ISIS but was sent to a psychiatric hospital after Anchorage police were called. In 2011 or 2012, he was investigated for child porn. Three weapons and a computer were seized but there was not enough evidence to prosecute.” – CBS News
Family members were interviewed and stated that Esteban has been dealing with some mental health issues following his deployment to Iraq in 2010. His brother Brian Santiago said he was receiving mental health treatment in Alaska for PTSD.
Something got to him,” she said. “It looks like he lost his mind. He would say that he would see things. I don’t know. So he went to the hospital. That’s what I know. That’s what the mother told me, who lives in Puerto Rico.”
Broward Sheriff’s deputies and the FBI are investigating the shooting. A motive is still unknown at this time. More to follow.
Image courtesy of ANCHORAGE POLICE